Skip to main content

Full text of "Creative Ceramics A Primitive Craft Becomes A Fine Art"

See other formats


CREATIVE 
CERAMICS 



PRIMITIVE CRAFT BECOMES A FINE ART 



By Katharine Morris Lester 




The MANUAL ARTS PRESS Peoria, Illinois 



Copyright 

BY KATHKRINK MORRIS I.KSTKR 

The discussions and illustrations in this hook were 
developed only through considerable study and invest- 
ment of time and money by the anther and publisher. 
Therefore reproduction of such material herein con- 
tained, in any form, including the simplest types of 
duplication, is specifically restricted under the 
Copyright Law of the United States. However, except 
for illustrations of work contributed by people other 
than the author, and so indicated by a "courtesy line" 
beneath the illustrations, all processes and finished 
articles shown and described are freely offered for 
whatever aid they may be to the amateur ceramist. 



PRINTED IN THK UNITED STATKS OF AMKKXCA 



FOREWORD 



T 

JLhe 



.he general revival of the crafts and the widespread interest 
and enthusiasm for that ancient but most fascinating of medi- 
ums, clay, have been the inspiration leading to the preparation 
of this book. 

Though the book covers a wide range of possibilities in 
clay as a craft, it is primarily written for those who have not 
had a broad experience in the clay field, for beginners and 
amateurs, if you please. 

It is the hope of the author that the various possibilities 
presented for interesting projects, all of which give the creative 
ability of the worker free range, may serve as a stimulus to 
original endeavor. Also, that he may find not only a pleasure 
but a real satisfaction in a material so responsive to his every 
idea. 

The author wishes to express sincere appreciation for the 
many courtesies and privileges extended while the text was in 
preparation, very especially to S. W. Rapp, Jr., secretary- 
treasurer of the Morton Potteries, Morton, Illinois, whose 
splendid cooperation contributed much to the development 
of the book. To Nathan Rapp, expert "thrower" at the 
Morton Potteries, the author is indebted for making possible 
the photographs on throwing, Chapter Nine. Acknowledg- 
ments are also made to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
New York City, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the New 
Mexico State Tourist Bureau, Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the 
excellent photographs used as illustration; to Helen Wester- 
mann for pen drawings; and to the several individual studios 



and craftworkcrs who have so generously contributed to the 
illustrations of the text, to each of whom a ereclit is given with 
the illustration. 

Photographs, H. G. Crawshaw, Pcoria, Illinois. 

TIIK AUTHOR 



[6] 



CONTENTS 

FOREWORD 5 

Chapter One: 
CLAY AS A CRAFT MEDIUM 9 

Chapter Two: 
MAKING A BEGINNING 17 

Chapter Three: 
MODELING FROM NATURE FORMS 29 

Chapter Four: 
HISTORIC DESIGN AS SOURCE MATERIAL 39 

Chapter Five: 
FIGURINES AND THE FIGURE 52 

Chapter Six: 
DECORATIVE TILES 76 

Chapter Seven: 
CERAMIC ORNAMENT 102 

Chapter Eight: 
POTTERY MAKING 1 1 4 

Chapter Nine: 
THE POTTER'S WHEEL 137 

Chapter Ten: 
GLAZING 149 

[7] 



Chapter Eleven: 
FIRING 153 

Chapter Twelve: 
MOLD MAKING AND CASTING j 57 

Chapter Thirteen: 
A FINISH FOR THE PLASTER CAST 204 

GLOSSARY 209 

INDEX 211 



[8] 



Chapter One 

AS A CRAFT 



E 



f ver since primitive man discovered that unusual earthy 
substance with which he could make little images of his pet 
animals, and fashion crude likenesses of his fellow men, the 
whole world has been toying with the same idea. Indeed, not 
only "toying" but long ago brought to perfection the art of 
fashioning both figures and other objects of great beauty in 
this same earthy substance which we know as clay. The primi- 
tive craft has become a fine art! 

It was, no doubt, the highly plastic quality of clay and its 
sensitive response to the slightest pressure that fascinated the 
primitives. It is this same plastic quality which, charmlike, 
continues to hold the interest of moderns. 

In today's ceramic market one finds varied, interesting, and 
beautiful objects created by the sensitive fingers of modern 
artists. Charming figurines, an age-old idea, have been revived 
and set in our present-day world. Decorative tiles in modern 
design are executed in color and used as backgrounds for 
fountains, for color notes in mantle pieces, and, when set in 
wrought iron, as handsome and durable table tops. Further, 
birds, fruits, and flowers are proving an inspiration for design; 
many of these find a place in wall decoration and also as 
centerpieces for modern table decoration. 

Historic design is still another source of ideas for choice 
ceramic pieces book ends, wall brackets, and other objects. 

9 



Clay has even invaded the fashion world being extensively 
used for the modeling of artieles for personal adornment 
pins, earrings, and necklaces. In some instances the glazes for 
these pieces are studied especially with the idea of harmoniz- 
ing the color and texture with that of beautiful handwoven 
woolens. 

The making of hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery is a 
ceramic field in itself which, with an appreciation of the im- 
portance of form and decoration and the fascinating interest 
of glaze, offers a wide range of varied and stimulating activities. 
In fact, so many are the possibilities in this delightful medium 
of clay as to w r cll appear limitless to the creative worker. 

Modeling in clay is a three-dimensional art. It necessitates 
a grasp of form in three dimensions. In this it is different from 
drawing which aims to represent the same in one plane only. 
This is difficult, especially when one has never had experience 
in the modeling of form. Modeling in any plastic material, 
whether potter's clay, oil-treated clays, or wax T is the most 
effective training known for developing the ability to delineate 
form. Such experience helps one not only 44 to see" form but 
also to gain an understanding of construction. It is this knowl- 
edge of form which underlies all the arts. This understanding 
and this appreciation of form comes more easily and more 
effectively when one shapes things with his own two hands. 
Clay as a modeling medium has the advantage of requiring 
the use of both hands at the same time, a training which is 
of practical value. 

In the field of education, the value of clay as a medium of 
expression has long been recognized. Hence, today, clay work 
in its various phases is a cherished activity in many of the 
nation's forward-looking schools. In the commercial field, clay 
as a craft grows into ever-widening channels for creative effort. 
With some knowledge of clay technique and design, the adult 
may find not only a hobby but a craft that may well carry over 
into the commercial field. Witness the interesting and beauti- 

[10] 



ful ceramic work, outcroppings of native creative ability, 
which many individuals and studio groups are now presenting 
the buying public. 

One of the most striking facts about the use of clay is that 
so far as known all peoples of the world have been familiar 
with its use and possibilities. It is claimed that no nation has 
been found that has not had a knowledge of clay and from 
earliest times has not used this knowledge to contribute to the 
religious and social needs of its communities. Much of the 
earliest work recovered testifies to its use in the religious life 
of the people, and the long line of unparalleled ceramics, pot- 
tery, and porcelain is permanent evidence of its practical use. 
Ceramics is said to be the only art of which the modern world 
has an unbroken series of examples from remote times to the 
present. 

Fortunately, clay as a craft does not call for an elaborate 
and expensive outlay for tools and material. In this respect 
alone the possibilities for carrying on the craft are very differ- 
ent from what they were even two short decades ago. Today 
a variety of clays, carefully prepared by experts, is available and 
may be purchased in small or large lots from the various pot- 
tery-supply dealers. Further, glazes, wheels, kilns, tools, and 
other useful, though not always necessary, supplies for the be- 
ginner may be purchased through these same supply dealers. 

GENERAL EQUIPMENT 

In the following list, various types of clay are given for gen- 
eral information. The moist modeling clay, or potter's clay, is 
the type used where the equipment includes a kiln. All others, 
however, are interesting and worthy of attention. 

(A) Clays 

( 1 ) MOIST MODELING CLAY. At the top of the list moist 
modeling clay, sometimes called "potter's clay," suitable alike 
for both modeling and ceramics, is the most satisfactory all-pur- 

[11] 



pose clay. This will dry hard and when fired goes through the 
biscuit and "glost" firing with satisfactory results. 

(2) "SERAMO" CLAY. A new type of clay that can be suc- 
cessfully low-fired in a kitchen oven, and which is especially 
suited to children's experiments, is now available. This clay can 
be incised and glazed, the glaze being fitted to the body. The 
glaze also furnishes a base for any further decoration in oil 
colors or enamels which one may care to add. A second coat- 
ing of glaze makes the piece both fire- and waterproof. 

(3) SELF-HARDENING CLAY. Today, a clay which is self- 
hardening or permanent setting is available. This preserves any 
modeled piece in permanent form without firing, lliese clays 
are never glazed but may be fittingly decorated with paint, 
enamels, or lacquer, and a finishing coat of clear lacquer or 
varnish added. 

A special self-hardening clay, known as '"Mexican Pottery 
Clay/ 7 comes in powder form and should be prepared with wa- 
ter to the proper consistency for modeling. When thoroughly 
dry, it is almost equal in hardness to kiln-fired clay. If decora- 
tion is desired, tempera colors or enamels are excellent. The 
rich, red color of the undccorated surface, as well as when dec- 
orated, is often coated with a transparent finish of white shel- 
lac, lacquer, or clear varnish. Fig. 1. 

(4) OIL-TREATED CLAY. This clay is known under various 
names, and each is an excellent modeling clay. This is the clay 
used by sculptors and designers in working out their original 
models before they are produced in permanent form. Oil- 
treated clays require no preparation, are always ready for use, 
and remain plastic indefinitely. Moreover, such clays may be 
used over and over again. They arc supplied in various colors 
and in time dry to about leather-hard, but are always easily 
manipulated. 

(B) Glazes 

A second consideration is that of glazes. A glaze is a thin 

[12] 




Fig, 1. Jar, tile, and ash tray in Mexican self-hardening clay Decorated 
incised line and poster colors. Finished with a coating 
of clear lacquer. 



coating similar to glass that protects the surface and 1 makes the 
ware water-resistant. Not all clay workers are sufficiently in- 
formed in chemistry to enable them to prepare their own 
glazes. Consequently, glazes prepared by experts are furnished 
in a great variety of colors by the supply dealers. These may 
be purchased in both transparent and opaque that is, matt- 
glaze. The latter is used on some of the most beautiful of mod- 
ern pottery. 

[13] 












Fig. 2. Modeling tools, A. Shaped like a .small thumb. B. With wired ends, for 
removing day, C, Convenient for reaching small places. 



(C) The Potter's Wheel 

There are several kinds of potter's wheel, both electric and 
foot-propelled that is, the "kick wheel." Since, however, a 
wheel is not a necessity for successful pottery making for a be- 
ginner, it is sufficient to state that both electric and kick wheels 
arc supplied by dealers. 

(D) The Kiln 

The kiln is a necessity unless, perhaps, a commercial pot- 
tery is located in the community. Usually, for a small consid- 
eration, the commercial potteries are willing to fire school and 
studio ware. However, one will find it far more satisfactory to 
have his own kiln, if only a small one. Experiments with vari- 
ous clays and glazes, and the resulting knowledge and satisfac- 
tion, make the possession of a kiln a necessity to the creative 
worker. 

(E) Tables, Modeling Boards, Tools, Bats 

(1) TABLES. A large table is a necessity. A few smaller 
tables, depending upon the number working, may be used, 

[14] 




Fig. 3. Plaster bats. 

(2) MODELING BOARDS. Drawing or modeling boards that 
will not warp should be supplied. These should be 12 x 14 or 
12 x 18 inches in size. 

(3) TOOLS. A few tools are necessary. Those shown in the 
illustration are sufficient for a beginning. Fig. 2. These are es- 
pecially shaped, basswood tools and inexpensive. 

(4) PLASTER BATS. These are especially useful in building 
pottery forms and small figures. The piece on a bat can be 
easily turned and studied with more satisfaction than when 

[15] 



working on a modeling board or table. Are useful in various 
sizes. Fig. 3. 

Directions for making plaster hits ' 

Materials 

A number of ordinary baking tins, sonic 2-inch, sonic 4- 
inch. Three or four pic pans. 

Soap size or vaseline. 

Plaster of Paris. 

Bucket half filled with water. 

Brush soap size or vaseline generously over inside of pans. 
Set pans on a perfectly level table. Prepare plaster, fill 
pans and leave to harden. After twelve to fifteen hours, 
the pans may be turned face clown and tapped on the 
table. The bats will fall out. 

This process may be repeated until a sufficient number of 
bats have been made. 

(F) Containers for Clay 

For a large group of workers a plaster- or /ine-lincd box is 
necessary in order to keep the clay in proper condition. When 
groups arc small a large crock is adequate, and even the lowly 
waste can, kept tightly closed is very satisfactory. All clay 
should be covered with clamp cloths when left. 

(G) Sink With Running Water 
(H) Plaster of Paris 

Quantity depending upon the purpose for which it is used. 

As one proceeds from rather a small beginning, lie will, as 
his interest grows, gradually acquire the habit of collecting 
other "helps" such as wire, sponges, string, scraps of linoleum, 
jars, etc. Many of these he will find useful if venturing into the 
field of mold making. 

1 Scc directions for preparing plaster, p. 162(4). 



Chapter Two 

^MAKING A ^BEGINNING 



E 



f very individual, be he primitive or modern, child or adult, 
reacts to the use of plastic clay in much the same way. Give 
anyone a small batch of clay and the first impulse is to squeeze 
it, roll it, press it and then make something. It is this easy 
handling of clay that so attracts and pleases. It is this same easy 
handling, or manipulation, of clay that gives it unusual value, 
especially in the field of education. It is not how perfect a 
horse, a dog, or a man that Johnny may make that counts, but 
it is in the doing, in the activity itself, that the value lies. This 
is especially true of beginning work, where each expresses him- 
self on the level of his own development. Children find great 
joy in shaping various figures, no matter how crude. They in- 
stinctively make heads, legs, arms, tails, etc., and "stick" them 
onto the body. These, of course, drop off. Adults, as beginners, 
do the same. This activity, however, is educational, for it soon 
develops a real need for direction. Then it is that a funda- 
mental principle of the modeling art will be better understood 
namely, that a figure is built up gradually, little by little, by 
making each bit of added clay a compact part of the batch of 
clay with which one begins. Instead of making legs, arms, tails, 
etc., separately, and "sticking" them onto the body, the added 
clay must first be wedged into the clay mass, and then modeled 
into shape. In this way, the beginner gains a better understand- 
ing of the form as a unit, rather than that of a body with the 

17 




MI ntoroui \\ Mi'sr.uM OF ART 



Fig. 4. Hippopotamus, terra eotta covered with a turquoise gla/e, K^vptian, 
Twelfth Dynasty, Found in an ancient tomb. 

parts added. With this type of instruction, one is receiving 
foundation training in real modeling. He, also, of necessity, is 
using both hands in the effort. 

Looking back to the childhood of the race, we find that 
primitive peoples of that distant day early discovered the fasci- 
nating quality of plastic clay and that each group in its own 
way expressed its own ideas on the level of its own develop- 
ment. One of the earliest examples is the famous "blue" hip- 
popotamus from Egypt, elating from the Twelfth Dynasty 
(2000-1788 B.C.) Fig. 4. Modeled in clay, baked, and covered 
with a turquoise glaze, it is one of the choice pieces of an- 
tiquity. Such a finished piece is known as faience, 1 

The early artist not only modeled the form but also carried 
out his own idea in the unusual decoration* He has drawn in 
black the blossom and buds of the sacred Egyptian lotus. 'Iliis 
decoration, to the primitive artist, probably suggested the ani- 

1 Faience: Baked day winch has been covered with an opaque gla/.e to hide 
the body of the ware. 

118] 




COURTESY METROPOLITAN 
MUSEUM OF ART 



5 Animal forms from Mycenae. Terra cotta 1400-1100 B.C. A. A bovine 
animal. Height 3 !4 inches. B. Goat, covered with gold leaf. 

mal's native habitat, the Nile, or possibly he may have chosen 
to represent the shadows falling upon the bulky body. Note, 
too, the surprising skill with which the artist adapted his dec- 
oration to the size and shape of the surface, the blossom of the 
lotus fitting the top of the head, and the buds with long stems 
properly adapted to the sides. The figure is about 8 inches in 
length and is one of the treasures of the Metropolitan Mu- 
seum of Art, New York City. 

From ancient Mycenae, in Greece, come the animal fig- 
ures, Fig. 5. These date somewhere between 1400 and 1 100 B.C. 
Both figures arc so simplified that they appear almost modern. 
The artist's concept, however, is expressed in clay and this ma- 
terial itself had much to do with the result. It is baked clay, 
terra cotta, 2 and no supports could be used to hold the clay in 
place for these would have been destroyed and the piece bro- 
ken during the firing. Therefore the early worker formed the 
legs as supports, with no effort toward realistic modeling, and 
kept the body light enough to prevent sagging. In one, he 
spread the front legs just enough to give support to the broad 

- Terra cotta. Clay which has been baked. 

[19] 




COIMTKSY, MKIKOl'OLUAN MUShUM 01-' ART 

Fig, 6. Riders from Cyprus. Terra cottu, A warrior and a 
bearded man riding .sideways, 

chest, the neck, and head. Then, to complete his idea, he 
added the decoration, stripes of a dark color which fall in with 
the contour of the figure. Many of the earliest examples show 
a similar decoration of stripes emphasizing the line of the fig- 
ure. 

The terra-cotta figure of the goat shows a similar effort on 
the part of the artist to make the legs carry the weight of the 
body and head. Instead of the striped decoration, this figure 
was entirely covered with gilding, which is unusual. 

The riders from Cyprus show similar qualities in the mod- 
eling, having pillarlike legs to support the weight. Fig. 6. The 
team of horses from the early Iron Age (Cyprus) is a charming 
example of the primitive concept of a team. Kg. 7, Note the 
decoration and how the artist emphasized the long neck by 
running the decorative line from the broad chest up, and then 

[20] 




followed the curve of the neck 
with the short, rounded lines, 
well spaced. 

Today, we look back upon 
these works of the ancient ar- 
tisans in clay and marvel at the 
naive charm of the figures and 
the "feeling" expressed in line 
and pattern. Beginners in our 
modern world often surprise 
their elders with their untu- 
tored creations that is, with 
their original ideas expressed 
on the level of their own devel- 
opment. These, too, are not to 
be discouraged, for they often 
carry a childlike charm, had 
the elders only an eye to see. 

There comes a time, how- 
ever, when the earnest student 
would go on to new and un- 
tried fields. Then it is that the art of modeling and other 
phases of the clay craft may be directed toward more definite 
progress. The object now is to develop a keener observation, 
a more accurate rendering of form and character, and some 
understanding of design quality. It is at this period that a real 
appreciation of clay technique, and clay as a medium of ex- 
pression, may be developed. 

The properties of any material govern the manipulation of 
that material; out of this necessary handling of a material grows 
technique or why one works in one way rather than another. 
Working in the right way adds much joy to the process, and 
usually insures a more expressive result. Hence, the importance 
of beginning with a real appreciation of one's material and the 
handling or technique best adapted to that material. 

[21] 



COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM 
OF ART 

Fig. 7. A team of horses. Terra 

cotta. Cypriote. Early 

Iron Age. 



Being one of the most plastic of materials, clay can be eon- 
trolled better by the fingers than by means of tools. In fact, 
the most useful of all tools is that supplied by nature, the 
thumb. It is important to rcali/.c from the outset that clay is 
not to be scraped with tools, such as knives, files, etc., sand- 
papered, or pulled about by the fingers to force it to conform 
to pattern. As one gains in experience in modeling, each touch 
should be definite and meant to express a desired quality. 

Modeling in clay is strictly a building-up process, piece be- 
ing added to piece. In this respect it is the opposite of sculp- 
ture, which is a chipping away of material. The correct han- 
dling of clay as a building-up process may be demonstrated in a 
very direct and exceedingly interesting way by modeling simple 
designs which may be completed within a reasonable length of 
time. Such patterns as those suggested by the various Indian 
symbols, Fig. 8, also letters, monograms, and the making of a 
tile, may be used in preparation for more advanced work. 
Fig. 9. 

The Indian symbols are particularly interesting not only be- 
cause of Indian tradition but also because of the "meanings" 
attached to them. Though Indian symbols arc usually seen in 
line drawings (a picture language) many of these may be 
adapted to clay. They suggest in this medium many interesting 
projects for the craft. For example, in Fig. 8, "Knd of Day/' 
and "Clouds" suggest book ends; a and cl suggest paperweights, 
and h and / suggest ideas for modern costume jewelry. 

DEVELOPING SIMPLE DESIGNS 

After choosing a monogram, letter, or Indian symbol, first 
draw it full size upon a medium heavy drawing paper, Full sixe 
is understood to mean the same size as the finished piece. The 
outline of the drawing should be well defined and, if necessary, 
it is advisable to go over the drawing with a heavy pencil, mak- 
ing the line clear cut. Then, using the drawing as a basis, the 
form may be built upon this. 

[22] 




Fig, 3. Indian symbols. Upper left, oil-treated clay. Right, potter's clay. 
A, Buffalo's eye. B. Sunset. C. Day. D. Medicine man's eye. 
E. Clouds. F. Swastika. G. Four winds. H. Thun- 
der bird. I The Sun. J. Thunder bird. 

[23] 




Fig, 9 

Before beginning with the clay, one should supply himself 
with a moist cloth, This should be spread over the batch of 
clay from which one works in order to prevent drying. It is also 
useful in keeping the fingers moist. A small pan of water at 
hand may be of some advantage. 

With the drawing completed and in place upon the model- 
ing board, a length of clay is then rolled out to about Vi inch 
in thickness and the pencil drawing is outlined with this. Fig. 
10. The clay is pressed down well onto the paper on the in- 
side, to hold it, using fingers and thumb only. 'Hie inner space 
is then built up piece by piece, the bits of clay being well 
wedged together. Fig, 11. The term "wedge" is one generally 
used in the practice of clay work. All clay when first being pre- 
pared for use goes through the wedging process that is, it is 
kneaded, pounded, slapped, cut over a wire, and worked con- 
siderably. This is to ricl the clay of air bubbles and make it 
more thoroughly plastic. When building with bits of clay, the 
term wedge is also commonly used and means to work each 
added piece firmly into the mass. If this is not done, especially 

[24] 




Fig. 10. Outlining the figure. 

with pieces to be fired, the escape of air bubbles causes the 
piece to break in the firing process. 

In proceeding with the modeling, attention should be 
given to keeping the outline correct and not permitting it to 
become distorted by the subsequent adding of clay. When the 
simple "form has reached approximately Vi inch in thickness, 

[25] 




Fig. 11 I-ty 12 

Fig. 11. The outline, almost filled with clay. Fig, 12, Completing the figure, 

the next step is the smoothing of the surface. The various types 
of simple depressions running throughout the different forms, 
Fig. 8, give practice in controlling the movement of the 
thumb. In such simple designs as the '"Buffalo's Kye/' "Four 
Winds/' the "Sun/' and similar forms, the depressed line is 
very simple and merely aims to give a pleasing variety to an 
otherwise plain surface. The moistened thumb is placed on the 
surface and drawn steadily and with a certain amount of pres- 
sure (depending upon the depth desired) around and through- 
out the form. In such designs as the "Thunder Bird/' 
"Clouds," and "End of Day/' the eraftworker may plan the 
form best suited to the pattern. In forming thi<> depression, 

[26] 



some clay is naturally displaced and forms a ridge. This dis- 
placed clay is finally smoothed back and into the form, leaving 
the edge rounded. Fig. 12. 

The use of the thumb in modeling becomes a natural pro- 
cedure after a few such exercises. Moreover, this manner of 
building and this use of the natural tool, the thumb, cannot be 
too strongly emphasized at the outset of all work in clay. This 
makes for definite progress in the manipulation of clay and for 
growing skill in the rendering of form. 

BUILDING A TILE 

In the building of a tile the same procedure is followed. 
The building may be done on medium heavy paper over the 
drawing outline, or, since the form is usually a simple square or 
oblong with definite dimensions, the work may be measured 
for accuracy and the clay built up without the drawing. A cir- 
cular tile, however, should be built upon the paper pattern 
with a well-defined edge. 

Lengths of clay, about 2 inch in thickness, are rolled out 
and used to form the outside edge of the tile. The inside space 
is then filled in with small bits of clay well worked or wedged 
together. Much of the lasting quality of the tile depends upon 
the skill with which the clay is wedged together. 

After the tile has been built to the desired thickness, it 
must be well smoothed, turned over, and if any loosely wedged 
places appear on the under surface (which is very likely) they 
must be filled in and the clay well worked together. When the 
tile is completed, it is then ready for the form to be built upon 
it. This may be a monogram, nature forms such as seed pods, 
fruits, or vegetables or larger and coarser studies. Further, it 
may be a design incised, inlaid, in relief, painted in colored 
clays, or in underglaze or overglaze colors. 3 

As one gains skill in the use of clay, tiles may be made more 
rapidly by using a frame such as described in Chapter Six, p. 

r{ See Chapter Six for various types of decoration. 

[271 



82, also in Chapter Twelve, Press Molds, p. 187, Fig. 130. For 
beginners, however, the making of a tile as here suggested leads 
to a better understanding and appreciation of the process. 

Bibliography 

Ellis, Clifford and Rosemary, Mode/ing for Amateurs- The Studio Publica- 
tions, Inc., 381 Fourth Avenue, New York, New York, 1939, 

Learning, Joseph, Fun With Clay. J. B. Lippincott Compam, Philadelphia 
and New York, 1944. 

Petri, Marie, Modelling. The Manual Arts Press, Monroe and Fayette Streets 
Peoria, Illinois, 1939. 

Shanklm, Margaret Eberhardt, Use of Native Craft Materials: The Manual 
Arts Press, Monroe and Fayette Streets, Peoria, Illinois, W, 

Wilson, Delia F., Clay Modeling and Pottery: The Manual Arts Press, Monroe 
and Fayette Streets, Peoria, Illinois, 



[28] 



Chapter Three 

^MODELING FROM JS[ATURE 
FORMS 



L 



/ ooking back through the great periods of artistic develop- 
ment, one finds that in each instance Nature with her varied 
and interesting forms has been the inspiration of the artist. In 
these great periods, the beauty of flowers and foliage has al- 
ways made a direct appeal to the eye that could see and the 
hand that could execute. This is worthy of consideration, for, 
in contrast, it is interesting to observe that primitive and savage 
peoples scarcely notice this beauty of line and form in plant 
life. 

For centuries China and Japan have led the world in the 
beautiful decorative treatment of plants, vines, and native 
shrubs. The chrysanthemum, cherry blossoms, and innumera- 
ble small trees and shrubs appear over and over again in their 
lacquer work, ceramics, and textiles. The ancient Egyptian 
found in the blue and white lotus, the palm, and the papyrus, 
countless ideas for conventionalized pattern. Many of these he 
spread in color upon the broad walls of his temples; others 
were the inspiration for the shafts and capitals of the massive' 
columns. The Greeks transformed the lotus and palmette of 
the Egyptians into the anthemion, which singly and in borders 
and bands decorated their pottery and, with the acanthus leaf 
and vines, served as carved ornamental detail for temples and 

29 




COURTKSY, MKTHOroUTAN MUSHTM OF ART 

Fig. 13. Fragment of carved frieze showing plant motif. Coptic. 
Sixth century, A.D. 

public buildings. The Romans adopted man}' of the Greek 
forms, greatly varied them, and developed many new plant 
motifs such as wreaths and festoons of flowers, leaves, and veg- 
etable forms. 

It was, however, the carvers of the late Gothic period 
(twelfth and thirteenth centuries) who first made a principle 
of going to plant life as a source for design, especially design 
for carved ornament. Consequently, we see the capitals, mold- 
ings, crockets, finials, and crcstings of the late Middle Ages 
budding forth in a marvelous variety of floral forms and beau- 
tifully turned foliage. Fig. 14, 

This feeling for the application of plant forms as a decora- 
tive motif has reached its highest development in the modern 
world. In America, Nature provides an unlimited store of in- 
teresting subjects for design, which may be approached 
through the modeling of these various forms. Large seed pocls, 
large leaves, buds, many of our native wild flowers, fruits and 
their foliage, and vegetable forms are excellent material for the 
clay enthusiast. Fig. 1 9. Further, these specimens are in great 
variety, arc easily accessible, and afford needed practice for the 
beginner. 

Many of these nature forms may be developed on tiles of 
various and pleasing shapes oblong, circular, oval and used 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART 

Fig. 14. Capitals showing plant motif. French Romanesque period. 

as effective wall plaques. If one is equipped to handle glazes, 
these may emerge as works of art. Often the wall plaques are 
cast in plaster. The plaster cast may then be given an appro- 
priate finish. 1 Such flower forms as "J ac k-in-the-pulpit/ ? Fig. 
16, the calla lily, the tulip, and others may suggest to the 
creative worker many possibilities in design for attractive wall 
pockets used for growing plants and vines; for candle holders, 
ash trays, bon-bon dishes, and others equally attractive. Fig. 17. 
All nature forms should be studied as such, and not from 
prepared conventional forms. Any conventional form is merely 
someone's interpretation, while the fact is the natural plant. 
Therefore study the natural plant first, the fact, and through 
this proceed to the design form. The appreciation of both 

1 See Chapter Twelve, Mold Making and Casting; also Chapter Thirteen, 
A Finish for the Plaster Cast. 

[31] 




Fig. 15. Modern studies from nature forms. 

decorative design and conventionalized pattern begins with 
the direct studies from Nature, herself. 

The early studies in the modeling of plant forms enable the 
beginner to receive his first conscious knowledge of "seeing 
form 7 ' and at the same time to register his seeing objectively. 
Furthermore, though only the form may be emphasized at first, 
very soon a new and important clement enters, that of light 
and shade, which always imparts life and vitality to the mod- 
eled forms. Through these studies, the student becomes better 
and better acquainted with the form and is far more able to 
make a satisfactory drawing of the same object. In fact, in 
developing a more thorough knowledge and appreciation of 
form, modeling in clay and drawing in pencil make an ex- 
cellent team, and should proceed at the same time. 

Modeled studies of plant forms are usually developed upon 
a tile or slab, which is made first and represents the table or 
drawing board upon which the model rests. The form is then 
in relief. Fruits and vegetables, not so fragile, may be modeled 
cither upon a tile or "in the round" that is, in three-dimen- 
sional form, showing length, width, and thickness. 

In making a selection for the first studies, the aim should 
be to secure the large, simple, and more durable forms, such as 
the various seed pods, or large and coarser forms of leaf, flower, 

[32] 




Fig. 16. Wall pocket for vines, developed from plant motif, Jack-in-the-Pulpit. 

Pocket, medium green gloss glaze. Jack, lighter green 

gloss glaze; red hat. 

and bud. Fig. 18. If the model is firm, as in the case of seed 
pods, fruits, and vegetables, feeling the surface is much more 
helpful than merely looking at it. In fact, by touch the slightest 
inequalities of surface may be easily detected. In the study of 
flower and leaf forms, the large and coarse specimens are far 
better than the smaller and finer, which easily become limp 

[33] 




Fig. 17. Modern ceramic pieces developed from plant motifs, Candle holder 
(one of a pair) . Bon-bon dish, Asli tray, 

and ragged with handling. The work in hand should be con- 
stantly compared to the original. Judging and correcting is a 
part of the developing process. 




Fig. 18 Modern studies in nature forms. 

MODELING A SIMPLE LEAF FORM 

First, after a selection for study has .been made, it is sug- 
gested that the model be placed in a pleasing position on a 
sheet of drawing paper, or any paper light in color. The ar- 
rangement is important, and careful thought should be given 
to the placing. If possible, arrange the 'study so that the light 
comes from the side. The undulations of the surface may also 
be noted, and these may be not only expressed in the modeling 
but may be exaggerated. The play of light and shade over the 
undulating surface of a study adds great interest and charm 
to the modeled form. 

After placing the model in position on the drawing paper 
and preparing the tile, the general outline of the study may be 
sketched with a pencil or tool upon the smoothed clay surface 
of the tile. Next, a length of clay is rolled out to the thickness 
of about Vi inch, and with this the form is outlined. Following 
this, the inner space is filled in with small pieces of clay, build- 
ing up from the highest to the lowest parts of the form. This 
means close observation and careful modeling, working back 
and forth many times until the work reaches a satisfactory de- 
gree of finish. It may then be smoothed by the dampened fin- 

[35] 




Fig. 19. Modeling a simple leaf form on a tile. At left, the outline has been 

filled in and the higher areas indicated. Right, undercutting and 

completing the form. 

gertips, the midrib may be indicated and, possibly, slight 
veinings suggested. 

After the modeling of the form has been completed, one 
may add to the effectiveness of his work by undercutting. Just 
where to undercut may be suggested by the position of the 
study, or one may give one's own interpretation to the form. 
This is done by running the tool under the edge of the form, 
pressing lightly upon the tile and perhaps lifting parts of the 
edge to secure certain pleasing effects. Any unclcsired rough- 
ness caused to either the model or tile may be smoothed again 
with moistened fingers. The leaf form, Fig. 19, has been mod- 
eled to show the undulations of the surface, giving light and 
shade; and parts are also undercut and lifted. 

[36] 




COURTESY, W. A. CURRIE, LOS ANGELES, CALIF. 

Fig. 20. Modern ceramic centerpiece. (Gardenia as motif.) 

In modeling from such nature forms, no particular effort 
should be made to make the edges of the clay model as thin 
as those of the study. In the last analysis, remember that 
this final work may be an interpretation of the leaf form and 
not a slavish copy. 

In all modeling of nature forms upon a tile, the same pro- 
cedure may be followed namely, the outline first secured, the 
space filled in, and sufficient clay added to give the desired re- 
lief, then modeling from the highest to the lowest parts. Fol- 
low with the necessary undercutting, if desirable, and give 
one's own interpretation to the final study. 

In certain studies of fruits, such as grouped bananas, 
bunches of grapes, and similar forms, the tendency, especially 
with children, is to set about making each separate banana or 
each separate grape, and then pile them up in their respective 
positions. Of course this is not modeling and should be dis- 

[37] 




Fig 21. Conventionalized patterns developed fioin plant forms. 



couraged. Always, at the beginning, treat such subjects as a 
mass that is, the clay mass is given the general shape of the 
model. Then, beginning at the highest point, the modeling is 
carried to the lowest. This means working back and forth 
many times. As the form grows, more and more attention is 
given to the shapes and these so developed in modeling that 
finally the complete form emerges. Fig. l c ). 

Design that is, the decorative or conventional treatment 
of nature forms is the logical step after acquaintance with 
the natural form. Consequently, after sufficient practice in 
modeling from nature studies, one may undertake the develop- 
ment of pattern or design from any of the forms studied. This 
not only brings creative ability into play but is excellent train- 
ing in design. Fig. 21. Furthermore, it is the design element in 
all craft work which gives value to the product. 



PS] 



Chapter Four 



HISTORIC ^DESIGN AS SOURCE 

^MATERIAL 



T 

JLhe 



.he field of historic design furnishes excellent material for 
creative ideas in clay. At the same time such an interest may 
develop an appreciation for the great art of the past to which 
we of today have fallen heir. In the field of architectural orna- 
ment, in particular, the forms are especially adapted to plastic 
material. 

Though the term "historic design 77 includes the general 
arts of painting, carving, portraiture in wood, stone, and mar- 
ble, and the building arts as well, it is the architectural orna- 
ment, which is a fundamental detail of the great building arts, 
that is particularly related to the modeling art. Historic archi- 
tectural ornament refers chiefly to the carved ornament, such 
as capitals, bands, borders, rosettes, symbolic forms, and unit 
designs. Architectural designs, such as gateways, triumphal 
arches, and towers, are also suggestive material. 

It is to these reliable historic sources that the modern craft 
worker may turn for new ideas original ideas. Such ideas, 
drawn from the historic but recreated by the craft worker, may 
be carried into permanent form, and these forms adapted to 
everyday uses. 

The historical significance of such a modern adaptation 
adds an intrinsic value to the product. For instance, the Egyp- 

39 




Fig. 22. Egyptian pylon adapted to book end, Modeled in self -hardening day, 
Ivory finish with "antique" effect. 

tian scarab, Fig. 25, adapted to the modern use of a paper- 
weight is far more interesting because of its "meanings" than 
"just another paperweight" would be. The same may be said 
of the Egyptian pylon, or gateway, Fig. 22, which lias been 

[40] ' 



adapted to clay in the form of a modern book end. Though 
greatly simplified, the general form remains. The book end, 
Fig. 31, inspired by Gothic ornament, is still another adapta- 
tion. So it is with many of these historic forms. They await 
only the interpretative ideas of the creative worker. 

The six most important historic periods are the Egyptian, 
Greek, and Roman of the ancient world and the Byzantine, 
Saracenic, and Gothic (328-1500 A.D.). Though all periods 
offer interesting and beautiful ornament for study, the illustra- 
tions shown were chosen from the three great periods which 
made widely different contributions to the building arts 
namely, Egyptian, Greek, and Gothic. A few of the important 
forms are illustrated in the modeled examples, and the follow- 
ing brief text is only to remind one of the meanings and inter- 
est associated with historic forms in general. 

The field, however, is so rich and varied that only by con- 
sulting books by eminent scholars and illustrated plates of the 
various periods will students gain an appreciative understand- 
ing of the great contribution made to our world of today. 
Recommended books with fully illustrated plates are listed at 
the close of the chapter. 

EGYPTIAN 

From the land of ancient Egypt comes the beautiful lotus 
or lily, venerated by the Egyptians as a symbol of immortality 
and dedicated to the great sun god and the god of the Nile. 
The annual overflow of the life-giving waters of the Nile kept 
the lotus forever blooming. Thus it was that the beautiful lily 
became symbolic of the river as a giver of life, and of the gods, 
who directed the river's flow. 

The lotus was the largest and most beautiful flower grow- 
ing in Egypt, and much was made of it in both religious and 
royal ceremonies. It was from this sacred flower that the an- 
cient Egyptian drew his inspiration for a large part of his ar- 
tistic achievement in both decorative painting and ornament. 

[41] 




Fig. 23. Egyptian, lotus capitals the full blown flower and the ^butl." 

Other plants, such as the papyrus and palm, were also incen- 
tives to creative expression, but the general appeal of the large 
and beautiful lotus is everywhere in evidence. It is seen in the 
elaborately painted decorations, in capitals, borders, and ro- 
settes. Fig. 23 shows the conventional form of the full-blown 
lotus, the form so frequently employed as the capital of the 
great supporting columns of her temples. Also in Kig, 23 is a 
second type of capital known as the "bud" capital, evidently 
suggested by the closed form. There are variations of these 
two types of capital and a few others of widely different char- 
acter, yet the full-blown lotus and the bud capital arc the two 
basic Egyptian forms. 

The same venerated lily is seen in the ancient Egyptian ro- 
settes which, unquestionably, are among the oldest known and, 
interesting to relate, all later designers have adopted this idea 
of arranging forms around a center. Kig. 24. 

Another historic form symbolizing immortality to the peo- 
ple of this land was the sacred beetle. This was rarely used as 
ornament; but, carved in soft stone, it was one of the most 
common of amulets, or charms, worn as a protection against 
evil. In carving the beetle, the spreading wings and legs-were 

[42] 




Fig. 24. Rosettes Egyptian, lotus motif Probably the oldest 
rosette forms on record. 



brought close to the body, so there were no extending parts, 
thus making a compact figure and one well adapted to stone or 
steatite (soapstone). Such a form of the beetle is known as a 
scarab. Fig. 25. The underside, which was flat, was incised with 
scroll and spiral patterns and hieroglyphics. These markings, 
of course, varied with the owner. Some indicated the owner of 
the piece in which they appeared, others the reigning monarch. 
The ring settings were sometimes fixed, but usually they re- 
volved upon pins or a gold wire which passed through them. 
Such a setting could be easily turned and consequently was 
used often as an official seal. 

Because of its compact form, the Egyptian scarab is well 
adapted to projects in clay. In one of the author's classes it was 
developed in self-hardening clay as a paperweight. Fig. 25 
shows a scarab that has been modeled in self-hardening clay 
and coated with the color usually seen in ancient scarabs, a soft 
green, It could also be developed in modeling clay, a mold 
made, and then cast in some of the newer casting materials 
recently placed on the market. 

Every present-day American visitor in Egypt finds a cer- 
tain delight in returning with a collection of scarabs. Those 
sold on the streets of Cairo, however, are planned especially 
for the tourist trade. The more valuable examples, recovered 
from the ancient tombs where they have lain for centuries, 
usually find a place in museum collections. 

[43] 




Fig 25. Scaral). Modeled in self-liauleiiing clay. 

The ancient pylon, the gateway to Egyptian temples, is still 
another form which, because of its simplicity and compactness, 
is admirably adapted to clay design. Ing. 22 shows the Egyp- 
tian pylon adapted to modern use as a book end. This has 
been modeled in self-hardening clay, thus avoiding the firing 
process, and finished in antiqued ivory. On festive occasions 
the cups shown on the wall, at either side of the entrance, car- 
ried the colorful banners and standards of Egypt 

GREEK 

All that was best in Greek architecture was embodied in 
her temples consecrated to the gods. The three famous orders 
of architecture used by the Greeks namely, the Doric, Ionic, 
and Corinthian were each distinguished by its type of capital. 
The earliest, the Doric, Fig. 26, shows the column without a 
base and the capital undccoratecl. It was probably derived from 
an earlier one in wood. Vitruvius, the ancient Roman archi- 
tect, says that this early column was probably inspired by the 
figure of a man. The average man was found to be six times 
the length of his foot, and the plain Doric column was made 




Fig. 26. Capitals, Greek Left, Doric; right, Ionic. 

six diameters in height. The flutes in the column may have 
been suggested by the Greek dress. 

The second order, the Ionic, is lighter and more graceful, 
being eight and one-half to nine diameters in height. Its capi- 
tal, instead of being without decoration as in the Doric, is dis- 
tinguished by spiral scrolls or volutes at each side, with rich 
moldings between the volutes. Fig. 26. This ornamentation 
varies in the capitals, some being fitted with several moldings. 
The illustration here is a greatly simplified rendering of the 
Ionic capital, emphasizing the form only, with a suggestion of 
carving between the scrolls. The same Vitruvius holds that 
this order was suggested by the graceful figure of a woman, 
and that the two scrolls were inspired by the arrangement of 
the hair, and the rich molding by the necklace. The most 
perfect examples of the Ionic capital are to be seen in the 
Erechtheum and the Temple of the Wingless Victory, both 
on the Acropolis in Athens. 

The Corinthian order was distinguished by a very ornate 
capital of acanthus leaves. Today only one perfect example ex- 
ists. This is in the choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens. 
The style was not used extensively by the Greeks, but later the 
Romans, who loved the rich and ornate in ornament, adopted 
and used it extensively in their monuments. 

[45] 




Fig, 2". Greek ornament The anthemion m design. I, eh 1 , aftci an oiuament 

used to surmount a fifth-eentmy tombstone, or stele. Right, 

a familiar type of anthcmion ornament. 









Fig 28. Greek bonier, "egg and tluit," 

Second only to the Greek capitals are the well-known na- 
ture forms, the anthcmion, acanthus leaf, and numerous vines, 
The anthemion is often called the "honeysuckle ornament/' 
It ? however, is believed to have been borrowed direct from the 
Egyptian lotus and transformed by the Greeks into a great 
number of anthemion motifs, which were both carved and 
painted, decorating furniture, pottery, and both private and 
public buildings. Fig. 27 shows two of the many forms given 
the anthemion. 

|46j 



It is said that the Greeks were the first to develop the idea 
of moldings in architecture. The carved anthemion was used 
with fine effect in both decorative bands and borders. The 
"egg-and-dart" molding is another well-known Greek border. 
Fig. 28. This was probably borrowed from an earlier form, but 
it is always attributed to the Greeks and should be familiar to 
most Americans, for it is frequently seen in modern American 
buildings. 

GOTHIC 

Gothic ornament is famous for the "meanings" always as- 
sociated with the carved details seen in the churches and ca- 
thedrals of the Middle Ages. In that day there were few books, 
and fewer, indeed, were the people who could read. Conse- 
quently, it became the duty of the Church to teach not 
through the printed page but through the eye. As early as 600 
A D., St. Gregory wrote, "What writing is for those who can 
read, painting is for the uneducated, who can only look/' 

The religious leaders made it the duty of the Church to 
teach the ideals of the Christian faith by constantly placing 
before the people these same ideas in symbolic form, which 
the people looked upon and understood. Paintings and frescoes 
in the churches filled the same purpose. In this way the Bible 
was made familiar through picture and symbol. 

The ornament of the Gothic period was largely a symbolic 
language used to teach the mysteries of religion. So it is that 
the cross, window traceries, trefoils, quatrefoils, the pointed 
arches, and the upward soaring columns can never be separated 
from their religious significance. These ornamental details were 
regarded as a means of lifting the thoughts of the people above 
things of earth to heights more spiritual. 

Some understanding of the meaning of these forms helps 
one not only to appreciate the beauty of these details but also 
to understand how completely the Gothic church was invested 
with symbolic meaning. 

[47] 




Fig. 29. The cross. Left, the foundation form of the Latin cross, 

later often richly decorated with carved ornament. 

Right, the cross of St. George. 

In the first place, the floor plan of the church was based on 
the cross, the long nave being crossed by the transept. The 
cross appears constantly in a great variety of forms as a symbol 
of Christian faith and sacrifice. The tall spires arc usually sur- 
mounted with the cross. It also appears on gables and tombs. 
Banners, carpets, robes, and vestments used in religious service 
frequently bear this symbol. 

The familiar Greek cross, also known as the cross of St. 
George, Fig. 29, shows the two arms of equal length bisecting 
one another at right angles. In the Latin cross the lower limb 
is lengthened. Fig. 29 also shows a simple foundational form 
of the Latin cross. This same cross, however, is frequently 
ornamented with naturalistic carvings of great delicacy and 
refinement. In St. Anthony's cross, the limbs cross diagonally. 
Many religious orders each had its own especially designed 
cross for the order's use. 

Characteristic of the Gothic period are the interesting geo- 
metric patterns based on the circle, a symbol of eternity, hav- 

[48] 




Fig. 30 Geometric patterns. Gothic Quatrefoil and trefoils 

ing neither beginning nor end. Fig. 30. These geometric forms 
were new at this time, for they were a departure from the usual 
forms based on nature. They, however, possessed great origi- 
nality and charm of form and gave to Gothic architecture one 
of its chief enrichments. The projecting points in the forms 
are termed "cusps/' and the space between the cusps are 
known as "foils." These simple forms also had their mystic 
meanings. The trefoil, three foils within the circle, signified 
the Trinity Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The quatrefoil, 
four foils within the circle, was named for the four evangelists 
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Later these simple forms 
grew more ornate. In any form, however, they give great 
beauty to windows, doors, balustrades, and, in fact, to every 
part of a building where employed. 

A very familiar nature form of this period was the fleur-de- 
lis, suggested by the iris. This was employed as a symbol of 
purity. It appears as tracery in Gothic windows and was often 
used as modeled ornament. The coat-of-arms of gallant knights 
of the period very frequently bore the emblem of the fleur- 
de-lis. 

In Gothic capitals, new and independent forms appear, 
departing entirely from classic tradition. The early Gothic 
capital grew out of the Romanesque, which was a bell shape, 

[49] 




Fig. 31. Book end Historic design 
is the source of the pattern. 



inverted. Fig. 32. 'I 'his funda- 
mental form gradually ac- 
quired rich ornamentation, 
crownings of leaves, flowers, 
stems, main' of them with an 
upward tendency in harmony 
with the aspiring style of 
Gothic architecture. The art- 
ists in the great building cen- 
ters were now constantly draw- 
ing upon nature forms for in- 
spiration in design. In fact, 
during the late twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries, the field 
of architectural design was 
greatly enriched by the re- 
newed and generous use of 
these forms. 

Another capital of Christian significance used during this 
period is one in which the cross of St. George appears in re- 
lief. Fig. 32. 

Down through the ages these symbols of Gothic art have 
been employed over and over again. The pointed arch, win- 
dow traceries, and the earliest of Christian symbols constantly 
appear in our modern churches and cathedrals. 

The adaptation of any historic design to* the clay medium 
may be developed in ( 1 ) potter's clay, then gla'/ed and fired, 
(2) permanent-setting clay, with a pleasing surface finish 
added, or (3) oil-treated clay. A mold of the model may then 
be made, followed by a cast in any casting material. An at- 
tractive finish may be given the cast. See Chapter Thirteen. 

In this study of historic design, the opportunity is af- 
forded the craft worker to make new applications of these 
age-old forms, and, better still, prepared and strengthened by 
this study of the past, to forge ahead and develop new goals 

[50] 




Fig. 32. Capitals One showing cross of St George, and the other an early 

form of Romanesque capital from which the Gothic developed. 

Gothic, the hell shape inverted, was later richly decorated 

with carved ornament from plant motifs. See Fig. 14. 

in architectural ornament in fact, create styles or ornament 
for the here and now today. 

Bibliography l 

Bossart, Helmuth Thcodor, Ornament in Applied Art E Weyke, 794 Lexing- 
ton Avenue, New York, New York, 1924. 

Brandon, Ralph and Arthur, An Analysis of Gothic Architecture, Vols. I, II 
David Boguc, 86 Fleet St., London. 

Buchlman, Josef, Architecture of Classical Antiquity and of the Renaissance. 

Lcmos, Pedro clc, Art Ages: The Davis Press, 44 Portland St., Worcester, Mass. 

Racinet, DeM. A., I/Ornament Polychrome, Vols. I, II (220 plates in color). 

Speltz, Alexander, The Colored Ornament of All Historical Styles: Vol. I. An- 
tiquity, Vol. II. Middle Ages, Vol. III. Modern Times, A. Schuman's Pub- 
lishing House, Leipzig, Germany. 

1 The volumes listed may be examined in most public libraries. 



[51] 



Chapter Five 

FIGURINES .AND THE FIGURE 



N, 



ever in the history of American ceramics has a deco- 
rative idea so captured the imagination of the American public 
as has that of the modern figurine. In recent years, private 
studios have been springing up in the East and West to meet 
the demand, and in the great Middle West long-established 
potteries have "undertaken" figurines as never before. 

The present-day popularity of figurines in the United 
States began to show itself about 1935-40, during a revival in 
this country of interest in eighteenth-century antiques. It 
was during this century in Kuropc that the popularity of 
the small porcelain figures made in Germany, France, Eng- 
land, and Sweden was in its heyday. Although China had de- 
veloped these miniature porcelain figures long before Europe 
seized upon the idea, porcelain figures as we know them today 
developed in Germany. They were first created at Meissen by 
one Johann Joachim Kiindler, who is regarded as the father 
of the art of representing in miniature the people of the day 
in the dress of the period. Indeed, these particular porcelain 
figures were the very mirror of fashionable society of the 
eighteenth century. Figs, 33 and 34. 

Surprising, too, is the inspiration which led to these popu- 
lar figurines. In still earlier clays, sugar and wax figures supplied 
by caterers were used as table decorations. 'Iliese were arranged 
to form a kind of landscape, with trees, rocks, temples, and 

52 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART 

Fig 33 Figurine, from Italian comedy. Porcelain. Modeled by Bustelli, 1760, 

[53] 




COUUTKSY, METROPOLITAN 1 MXTBKUM OF ART 



Fig, 34. Left, figurine, English (Derby). Porcelain, 1765. Ritjht, eight- 
eenth century figurine. A ventriloquist with his puppet. 
German porcelain, 1770, 

other decorative objects added. They were placed on the din- 
ing table or, if not there, on a side table for the admiration 
and amusement of guests who found in them a ready source of 
conversation. Many times candles were placed with the figures 
and this, later, suggested the porcelain figures with decorated 
mounts used as candle holders. So it came to be that the beau- 
tiful eighteenth-century figurines received their inspiration 
from the sugar and wax figures produced by the caterer's art, 
plus the creative genius of Johann Joachim Kiindler, the father 
of the art. 

At first, the most popular figures were chosen from the 
[54] 



operas. These were usually 
dancing couples, lovers, crin- 
oline groups, and similar sub- 
jects. It was only a step from 
this, however, to the portray- 
ing of. real life as it was in 
that picturesque period. The 
resulting figures were charm- 
ing and so caught the glam- 
orous side of the life of that 
day that they not only capti- 
vated the public of their own 
time but likewise captured 
the fancy of antique collec- 
tors of a later period. 

This interest in eight- 
eenth-century figurines be- 
came so widespread that 
about 1939-40 ambitious 
modern potteries and studios 
in Europe began turning out 
figurines portraying contem- 
porary life. These, also, 
found a ready market in the 
United States, but just as the upswing was surging ahead, the 
war in Europe put an end to production. 

Then it was that American designers and craftsmen came 
forward to fill the breach. Soon hundreds of new producers 
were coming into the market. Among these were merchandis- 
ers, newspaper men, lawyers, housewives, and others without 
any particular background except their own native genius on 
which to build. Many of these were making their models at 
home and taking them to nearby potteries or studios for firing 
and glazing. Located in the West, in and about Los Angeles, 
there are today a large number of producers of figurines. In 

[551 




COURTESY, KAY FINCH CERAMICS, CORONA 
DEL MAR, CALIF. 

Fig. 35. Modern figurine. 




COUIU'KSY, BKAYTON LACUNA POTTKKY, LAGUNA HKACI1, CALIF, 



Fig. 36. Miranda and Jon. From series, "Children of Various Lands." 

the East, in and about Trenton, New Jersey, seems to be the 
figurine area, while in the Middle West a number of long- 
established potteries arc producing figurines of fine quality. 

It is surprising to learn that this modern figurine has a long 
and distinguished ancestry, reaching back to the earliest uses 
of clay. Even in ancient times these little figures, both human 
and animal, seemed to meet, then as now, an emotional need 
of the people. The little tcrra-cotta figure from the island of 
Crete, Fig. 38, is only one of the many early figurines on rec- 
ord, dating 1800-1600 B.C. This was found with a number of 
others in a shrine on the island, having been placed there as 
votive offerings. But note the record of Cretan costume! the 
long, wide skirt, open jacket, hip girdle, and large hat! 

[56] 




COURTESY, BRAYTON LACUNA POTTERY, LACUNA BEACH 7 CALIF. 

Fig. 37. Eugene and Ellen. 

The delightful Tanagra figures from Greece, dating from 
the fourth and third centuries B.C., are distinguished by their 
simple grace and quiet charm. They stand from 6 to 12 inches 
high and are believed to have been painted in delicate pastel 
colors. Originally, they may have been votive offerings, or they 
may have been modeled and painted merely to be enjoyed as 
are figurines today. Figs. 39, 40, and 41. 

From India come figurines in bronze, dating from the 
seventh century. Some of these are under 4 inches in height. 
From ancient China come many figurines in both human and 
animal forms. 

Centuries ago the Chinese buried with their dead small 

[57] 



clay figures representing their 
servants in life, whose duty 
it was to wait upon the dis- 
embodied spirit. These also 
included figures of their fa- 
vorite animals, that likewise 
might he of use in the future 
world. Figs. 42, 4\ 44. The 
saddled horse, ready for his 
rider, is one of these, and 
one of the most important 
horses yet recovered. lie is a 
piebald steed with a luxuri- 
ous, flowing mane, and is 
handsomely caparisoned, 
The saddle cloth is enriched 
with designs of the period 
and the elaborate trappings 
are so well preserved that the 
importance attached to a 
great man's horse in early 
Chinese times is very evi- 
dent, 

In China, the camel rep- 
resented trade, and many 
such figures have been found. 
Pat ing from the same period 
is the clog, probably a pet. 
During the Gothic period, religious statuettes or figurines 
were made of ivory and painted in blue and red, and many of 
these were used in the churches. Later, during the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, figures of the Nativity scene were 
among the popular subjects for figurine modeling. Fig. 45. 
These were usually terra cotta, to which color was added. 
When completed the figures were assembled in various pleas- 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSKUM OF 

ART 

Fig. 38. An ancient figurine. Painted 

terra-cotta figure of a lady. 

From Island of Crete, 

1800-1600 B.C. 



ing arrangements. The sub- 
ject continues, even in mod- 
ern times, to be a favored 
theme for the modeling art. 
The Renaissance also pro- 
duced the master craftsman, 
Benvenuto Cellini, who 
modeled figures in clay, cast 
them in bronze, and deco- 
rated them in gold and 
enamels. 

This long line of ancient 
miniature figures leads di- 
rectly down to the eight- 
eenth century, where the art 
of the figurine seems to have 
been perfected. Today these 
eighteenth century figures 
picture to the modern world 
the gay life of that long-ago 
period dancers, magicians, 
masqueraders, actors, and 
many striking episodes from 
popular plays. The next 
chapter in figurine history has not yet been written. It may be 
that some clay America may awake to find herself a leader in 
the art. 

Notwithstanding the fact that many producers with little 
background or experience in modeling have been successful in 
turning out acceptable pieces, it remains true that, from an 
artistic point of view, some knowledge of figure modeling, 
composition, and color are an advantage of considerable value 
to one working in this field. Further, coupled with this is a 
technical knowledge of processes which it is to the designer's 
advantage to understand, especially the designing of figures 

[59] 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF 

AKT 

Fig. 39. Girl dancing, painted terra 
cotta. Greek, third century B.C. 





Fig. 40 Fig. 41 

Fig. 40. Girl with mirror arranging her hair. Painted terra cottiu fourth century 

B c. Fig. 41. Draped figure. Painted terra cottu. Cxrcck, third or 

fourth century B.C. 

and the relation of the design or composition to the making of 
molds and casting. For instance, if the design of a figure is 
such that there are many projecting parts, or undercuts, it 
is well for the amateur to know this before planning his model. 
Otherwise, he may be much surprised to find the amount of 
time and labor involved in preparing a mold for such a figure. 
Many of the eighteenth-century figurines were so complicated 
that a separate mold had to be made for head, arms, legs, parts 
of the drapery, and ornament; then, using slip as a kind of 
cement, the pieces were very carefully assembled. 

Modeling of imaginative figurines by both the amateur and 
professional is a delightful adventure. One does not feel re- 

[60] 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF 

ART 

Fig. 42 



Fig. 43 



Fig. 42. Tomb figure. A glazed 
tcrra-cotta horse, saddled and 
ready for his master's use. T'ang 
Dynasty, 618-907 A.D. Fig. 43. 
Tomb figure. Camel. White 
earthenware with transparent 
glaze. T'ang Dynasty, 618-907 
AD. Fig. 44. Tomb figure. 
Hound, ready to accompany his 
master. White earthenware with 
a thin glaze in cream with 
touches of green. T'ang Dynasty, 
618-907 A.D. 



Fig. 44 

stricted, and consequently enjoys a certain freedom in work- 
ing out his idea. Such figures may be modeled in either of the 
following clays : 

( 1 ) OIL-TREATED CLAY. This is the clay generally used by 
designers and sculptors. 

(a) A mold may be made of the model, and from 
this a plaster cast. 

(b) A mold for slip casting may be made and from 

[61] 





COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MXTSKUM OF ART 



Fig. 45. Nativity Group. Rossellmo Fifteenth century, Florentine. Five figures 
in painted terra cotta. The Virgin, 34 inches in height. 

this a clay reproduction which must be fired for perma- 
nence. 

(2) POTTER'S CLAY. This is a clay which calls for firing 
and glazing. 

(a) The model, as completed, may be fired and glazed. 
The clay must be removed from the inside, leaving the 
wall about Vi inch in thickness. Thickness of wall depends 
upon the size of figure. 

(b) A mold may be made for slip casting, or clay re- 
production, which calls for firing and glazing. 

(c) A mold for plaster casting may be made and from 
this a reproduction in plaster, which calk for a proper 
finish. 1 

For first efforts in the modeling of an imaginative figure, it 
is best to choose one that is compact in form and well sup- 
ported at the base, such as a seated or reclining figure. Clay 
will sink under its own weight and, if the figure is not well 

1 See plaster casting, p. 177. Sec slip casting, p. 160. 

[62] 



supported, the clay sags and 
the figure loses its form. If 
attempting to build a stand- 
ing figure, it should be sup- 
ported at the base. Some- 
times a bit of drapery, the 
dress, or other device may 
serve the purpose. If the fig- 
ure is small, wooden pegs, 
matches, or similar tempo- 
rary supports may be run 
into the clay and allowed to 
remain until the clay be- 
comes firm; then they may 
be removed. Sometimes 
small figures, of weak struc- 
ture, may be supported on 
the outside by rolls of clay 
later removed when the fig- 
ure can support itself. If 
large figures- are planned, a framework of wood and wire is 
used as a support and the figure built upon this. Such a frame- 
work is known as an "armature." Fig. 46. Figure armatures as 
well as those for animal forms are often supplied by dealers in 
art supplies. 

Figures which are to be fired must have no supports of any 
kind. If left within a model, shrinkage causes the clay to break. 

MODELING A FIGURINE 

A sketch, a picture, or a model of the proposed figure 
should be at hand in order that the modeler may have a 
definite idea of that which he hopes to accomplish. Since a 
well-supported figure and one compact in form is best for first 
efforts, such a figure will be considered. Fig. 47D. 

All figures, whether small or large, human or animal, are 

[63] 




Fig. 46. Figure armature. 



seen as made up of mass forms, which include the following: 

(1) Main or dominant masses. 

(2) Subordinate or minor masses. (There may be several 
degrees of minor masses.) 

(3) Details. 
Proceed as follows: 

(1) With the sketch, picture, or model at hand, decide 
upon the main masses of the figure. For instance, as in Fig. 
47A, from the top of the figure to the shoulders may be con- 
sidered one mass; from the shoulders to waist, a second mass; 
from waist to base, including legs and feet, a third mass. 

( 2 ) Take a batch of clay about the size of the largest mass. 
Place in position upon the modeling board or plaster bat. 
Since the figure needs more clay, the masses must be built up. 

Begin by adding pieces of clay, wedging these into the 
main mass until the general shape is only roughly indicated. 
At this stage, keep the clay a little undcrsizc, thus making 
allowance for the clay to be added in building up the figure. 
Fig. 47A. 

(3) When the masses are fairly well built, indicate each 
in the clay, and give each the approximate position of the 
model. 

(4) Begin indicating the minor masses, cap, arms, hands, 
legs, feet. Consider these smaller masses in the same way, 
building up the general shape to conform to the model. Fig, 
47B. Do not smooth. 

(5) Under no circumstances attempt to complete any 
part of the figure at this stage. Go all over the model, again 
and again, each time improving the modeled surface as a 
whole. 

Add clay where necessary rolls of clay where areas are 
large, small pellets of clay where areas are small 

Remove any excess of clay with the wire tool. Fig. 47C. 

At this stage, it is essential that the figure be placed on a 
plaster bat in order that it may be turned and studied. 

[64] 





Fig. 47. Processes in building a figurine. A. Building up the main masses. 

B. Main and subordinate masses indicated and given position of model. 

C. Building up model and removing clay where necessary. D. Adding details. 

[65] 




COURTESY, JANE GALLENDKR CKKAMICS, LOS ANGKLKS, CALIF. 

Fig. 48. Modern figurine. "Fru Frn" the French poodle, clipped in the 
smartest fashion. 



Invariably, in all figure modeling, the amateur works to- 
ward finishing one part of the figure without clue regard to the 
complete model. With the figure on a bat, constantly turning 
and studying from all sides, the beginner soon acquires a "feel- 
ing" for the figure as a whole. 

Working in this way no effort is lost, for all sides of the 
figure are brought to the point of completion about the same 
time. 

(6) Constantly turn and study the model from all sides, 
adding clay here, if necessary, and pinching off there, refining 
each part more and more. 

(7) Details are the last to be considered. If the figure is 
small, features may be indicated only. The eyes and mouth 
may be incised or merely suggested with the aid of a tool, and 

[66] 



i ' 




COURTESY, JANE CALLENDER CERAMICS, LOS ANGELES, CALIF. 

Fig. 49. Modern figurine. Colette, the wire-haired terrier. 

the nose indicated by a bit of clay. Fig. 47D. If the figure is to 
be glazed and fired, it is not necessary to model features, since 
these may be painted in with glaze. Figs. 35 and 36. 

( 8 ) When the model is completed, it should be smoothed. 
Going over the surface with the moistened fingers helps to 
give a satisfactory finish before setting aside to dry. 

If the figure is to go through the kiln, it must be left until 
only leather-dry. When in this condition, the clay must be 
removed from inside the figure, leaving a wall about l /2 inch 
in thickness. After this is accomplished, the piece is set aside to 
become bone-dry. It is then ready for the first, or biscuit, firing. 

Modeling direct from the figure, either human or animal, 
is a distinctly different experience from that of building up an 
imaginative figure. There comes a time when the "art of see- 
ing" needs to be stimulated and though modeling from posed 

[671 




COURTESY, KAY FINCH CKUAMICS, CORONA DKL MAR, CALIF. 

Fig 50. Modern figurines. 

figures is not essential in simple figurine modeling, knowledge 
of the figure, its structure and proportion, docs, however, go 
far toward making any result an artistic achievement. 

A surprisingly helpful way of gaining a knowledge of the 
figure, both human and animal, its structure, proportion, and 
surface areas or planes, is in the study of master models, espe- 
cially those in blocked form, in which the planes arc 'indi- 
cated. This does not mean that such are to be copied but only 
thoughtfully observed and studied in relation to the figure 
itself. 

In such study, one learns much about the structure that 
[68] 




Fig. 51. Blocked cat showing planes. 

produces the form. The form (that is, basically, the structure) 
has much to do with the determining of surface areas, which, 
in turn, decide the planes. One also comes to recognize the 
importance of shadow areas and the relative unimportance of 
details. This study so trains the eye that automatically one ap- 
plies such knowledge to any modeling he may do. 

The blocked areas or planes of the surface are of various 
shapes, depending upon the different directions the surface 

[69] 




takes. Each direction is 
blocked as if flat, and, 
where plane meets plane, 
a ridge is formed. 

Fig. 51 shows a mod- 
eled form with the planes 
indicated. After these 
planes are located cor- 
rectly, the matter of com- 
pleting a figure is rela- 
tively simple. The ridges 
between planes are 
rounded, plane merging 
into plane, small bits of 
clay added where neces- 
sary to make the transi- 
tion from one form to 
another, corners rounded, 
and, finally, any details 
added. 

With such practice in figure modeling, the modeling of 
figurines becomes comparatively simple, greatly influenced and 
decidedly helped by the finer appreciation of the essentials 
structure, proportion, and the modeled form. 

MODELING A HEAD ON AN ARMATURE 

In modeling a head, whether imaginative, from a cast, or 
from life, the same constructive way of working is followed. If 
an armature is necessary, this may be of wood, or wood com- 
bined with wire and lead piping. When the head is supported 
by a base, allowance is made in the height of the armature. 

In Fig. 52, the center shaft of wood is raised to the height 
required. The two pieces of lead piping ( 1 A inch) are crossed 
and brought down and firmly fastened in place. Care must be 
taken that at no place the lead piping comes near the clay 

[70] 



Fig. 52. An armature, often used in model- 
ing a head. 



surface. The "butterflies" at the top are two small pieces of 
wood held together by wire and fastened to the lead piping 
where the two pieces cross. This helps to support the clay. 

In modeling a head, callipers are used to secure the correct 
measurements. The following steps are followed in order: 

(1) Building up. Begin by wedging the clay about the 
base of the armature and building this and the neck only fairly 
well, mainly as a support. Fig. 53. 

Fill the clay inside and around the armature, wedging 
firmly to eliminate air. 

Form clay of head into an oval shape. This form should 
be kept undcrsizc to allow for building up. 

(2) Sketch center vertical line on clay also horizontal 
lines, as guides only, showing where the eyes, nose, and chin 
will come. 

Balance each side of center line. Give head correct pose. 

Since the placing of the features is governed by the dis- 
tance of each from the chin, the important point to locate 
first is that of the chin. To identify these various measure- 
ments on the clay, little wooden pegs are used. (Broken 
matches will answer the same purpose.) Such pegs are easily 
adjusted, especially to get the correct projection of a feature 
such as the nose and chin, by pushing into the clay or pulling 
out to the correct distance. 

To locate the chin, the pit of the neck must be determined 
and a peg placed here. 

( 3 ) With this as center, get the distance from pit of neck 
to chin. Peg this chin point. 

Study the chin in profile to get the correct projection, ad- 
justing the peg; then build up around it. 

The point of the chin now becomes the center for securing 
all other measurements, which should be pegged: 

(a) Chin to top of nose, between brows. 

(b) Chin to hairline. 

(c) Chin to fleshy notches at ear openings. 

[71] 




Fig. 53. Building up the foundation, 

[72] 



(d) Lqcate eyebrows, describing arcs. 

(e) Locate point of nose, peg. Proceed to get projec- 
tion in profile and build up. 

Other measurements to consider are: 

(a) Width across the face between ear notches. 

(b) Width to outside of eye sockets. 

(c) From tip of nose to back of head. 

Numerous other measurements are often taken and will 
suggest themselves as one works. The above, however, are im- 
portant points necessary to consider in the correct modeling 
of a head. 

(4) Press in the eye sockets. Add rolls <of clay for the ears. 
After measurements have been taken and features located, 

one proceeds to build up the various areas of the surface, em- 
phasizing especially the bony structure. These areas, varying 
in size and shape, are seen in the planes. Those of the face are 
especially important. 

(5) Note the various planes in the model and proceed to 
develop them in the clay, namely, 

(a) Large area of forehead. 

(b) Two planes forming the sides of the forehead. 

(c) Four planes of the nose, the ridge, two side planes, 
and under section. 

(d) Two large side planes extending from the cheek 
bones to the jaw bones. 

(e) Areas between nose and chin. 

Continue to study the head from all sides back, front, 
profile, and especially from underneath, looking up. This helps 
one to judge the projections. Next, go to the neck and shoul- 
ders. Never work long at any one point; instead, go all qver the 
study. 

In completing the model, the addition, as it were, of the 
skin covering must veil these vigorous forms, that is, the 
planes, but not conceal them with a too smooth surface which 
may destroy the structural build-up. 

[73] 




Fig. 54. The modeled head. 
[74] 



(6) Bring all planes together by adding small bits of clay, 
making the subtle transitions or adjustments between various 
forms, blending them, but not losing them. 

Constantly turn and work over the entire model until it is 
gradually brought to a state of completion. Fig. 54. 

In today's ceramic field, the unusual popularity of the 
figurine has been an inspiration to creative workers in clay. 
Modern designers are composing not only single figures but 
some are developed in pairs or in groups of three or more with 
considerable variety in size and posture. Such a group may 
then be arranged again and again, as the fancy of the collector 
dictates. Single figures, pairs, and groupings find varied uses 
aside from the purely ornamental. Many merchandising stores 
are employing the modern figurine to help sell their goods. 
One sees them in display windows, placed there with the firm 
conviction that they lend to the goods shown an interest- 
ing note in both color and form. One sees them on candy 
counters, in flower shops, and numerous other places. In the 
home, they are frequently used as book ends or to add a deco- 
rative note to the book slaelves. Again, as of old, they are used 
as table decoration, as center pieces combined with candles, 
fruits, and flowers. These new and unusual uses of the figurine 
are a novel and noteworthy development of modern times. 

So it is that, in this twentieth century, the figurine, as old 
as man, is still new and, though put to new uses, continues to 
make the same old emotional appeal as it has through the 
centuries. 

Bibliography 

Cox, Warren E., Pottery and Porcelain, Vols I, II- Crown Publishers, New 

York, New York, 1944. 
Haydcn, Arthur, Chats on Royal Copenhagen Porcelain: T. Fisher Unwin, 

Ltd , Fleet Street, London. 
Schmidt, Robert, Porcelain (As an Art and a Mirror of Fashion): George G. 

llarrap & Co., Ltd., London, 1932. 



[75] 



Chapter Six 

(DECORATIVE TILES 



T 

JL he decorative tile goes back many hundreds of years. As 
early as 1300 B.C., the Egyptians were making tiles in which 
the design was incised and into these incisions or grooves was 
fitted colored glass which, when fired in a kiln, was fused into 
brilliant and sparkling color. Egyptian tiles of that long-ago 
period show also figures of men and animals in relief, coated 
with bright and beautiful enamels a low-fired glaze. 

Egyptian craftsmen, as well as their neighbors in Mesopo- 
tamia, developed these unusual glazes which they used in the 
production of tiles and glazed brick. The walls of the ancient 
city of Babylon were made of glittering glazed brick, each 
bearing a portion of a pattern which, when fitted together, 
pictured lions, great winged monsters, and other imaginative 
creatures. The custom of using the brilliantly glazed brick for 
both exterior and interior walls was adopted by Persia when 
at the height of her ancient splendor. Her brilliant blues, 
violets, and turquoise glazes have scarcely been surpassed. 

From the fall of the Persian Empire to the ninth and tenth 
centuries, little is heard further of the brilliant tiles and pot- 
tery of the Near East. It is believed that most of the clays avail- 
able during these early centuries were dark, probably red and 
brown, and these, when fired with a transparent glaze which 
showed the dark body, were not particularly attractive. 

76 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART 

Fig. 55. Egyptian tile. Faience, 1350-560 B.C. 






! '^mw^-- 



COURTESY, THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO 

Fig. 56. Panel of glazed brick from Procession Street in Babylon. Built by 
King Nebuchadnezzar, 605-562 B c 

Potters of the East knew that tin added to glaze would 
render it opaque, but tin was scarce. Consequently, about the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, they depended upon cov- 
ering the dark body with a light slip that is, a liquid clay. A 
transparent glaze was then added over this. This was a step 
nearer the goal. 

[77] 




Fig, 57 



COURTESY, THK ART INSTITUTE OF CIHCAC 

iM 58 



Fig. 57. Persian four-pointed "star*' tile with thick blue gla/,c. Arabesque 

ornament in relief. Width, 1114 inches Fig. 58. Persian eight-pointed 

tile. Gray clay. Brown lustre on white opaque gla/e. Two cranes 

opposed and scroll motifs reserved in white. Brown spots 

on wings of birds. Width, 4 ! j inches. 

About 1500, many Eastern potters, especially the Moors, 
were carrying their craft secrets to the Island of Majorca, about 
one hundred miles off the coast of Spain. Spain was rich in tin 
and before long tin was added to the light slip and also to 
transparent glaze, rendering each opaque, With this the diffi- 
culty was solved! With a hard, white, opaque coating over the 
dark body, bright colors could now be used most effectively! 

Figs. 57 and 58 show Persian four- and eight-pointed "star" 
tiles. Each is made of a dark grayish clay. Fig. 57 has been 
covered with a thick blue glaze to hide the dark body. In Fig. 
58 the dark body has been covered with a white opaque glaze. 
The background is then filled in with a lustrous brown glaze, 
the design being left in white. 

The new ware was given the name "majolica" after the 
Island whence it came. Later, when carried into Italy, majolica 
became still more famous. 

[78] 












Fig. 59. Mexican tile in colored glaze, showing four tiles treated as a unit, 

one fourth of the pattern appearing in each tile. Tiles were glazed and 

fired separately and then assembled. From Mexico City, Mexico. 

[79] 



In Spain the ceramic arts flourished. The making of pot- 
tery and beautiful tiles in color grew into an extensive indus- 
try. Tiles were generously used in Spain's most beautiful and 
world-famous buildings. So tile conscious were the Spanish 
people that each of the various provinces developed its coat- 
of-arms in the form of a tile. Glazed in harmonious color, these 
were frequently set as a single decorative unit in the walls of 
buildings. During the seventeenth century, Spain produced 
tiles in intaglio patterns, the sunken areas being filled with 
colored glazes. These, also, were often set in Spanish walls. 

Today one finds much of the atmosphere of old Spain in 
neighboring Mexico. In fact, it is a popular belief in Mexico 
that potters from Spain were sent over to "New Spain" shortly 
after the conquest (1520) to instruct the natives in all the 
mysteries of clay, including the preparation of glazes and fir- 
ing. They thus prepared them for the great industry that 
has supplied all Mexico with tilcwork which beautifies her 
churches, convents, homes, fountains, and public buildings. 
The main dome of the Carmine Church, considered one of 
the finest in Mexico, is resplendent in its all-over decoration 
of glazed tile. In the famous 'House of Dolphins/ 7 a profuse 
display of colored tiles greets the visitor, while in the courtyard 
stands the old well built entirely of glazed tile. 

This ancient clay tile, having come clown through the 
ages, brings to the modern world the same inspiration for 
creative design as it did to the people of centuries ago. Today, 
incised tiles, tiles in relief, inlaid tiles, slip-decorated tiles, and 
tiles designed for underglazc decoration as well as ovcrglaze 
decoration challenge the genius of the modern designer, and 
the measure of beauty each may express depends upon the 
creative imagination of the craftsman and his ability to design. 

THE INCISED TILE 

The tile incised with a line design is the simplest form of 
decorative tile. Fig. 60. The usual form of a tile is the four, six, 

[80] 




Fig 60. Incised tiles, unglazed 

or eight-inch square. It may, of course, be an oblong, oval, 
circular, or any other form the designer chooses. See Fig. 74; 
also Persian "star" tiles. Figs, 57 and 58. 

In planning such a tile the design must be considered first, 
for it is the design that gives value to the piece. It is well to 
observe a few generally accepted principles in working out 
such a pattern: 

( 1 ) The lines of a pattern, when following in general the 
lines of the form, tend to strengthen the design. 

(2) The angles or corners of either a square or oblong 
may be strengthened or emphasized by an accent in the design 
falling at the corners. 

(3) A pleasing variety in the spaces or areas of the pattern 
makes a more interesting design. 

In Fig. 60 the two designs are very similar; a slight change 
in the line, however, gives an entirely different effect. 

The design must be definitely planned on paper, and the 
lines should be Ya to 1 A inches in width, blackened in with a 
soft pencil in order to transfer readily to the clay. After the 
design is ready, one proceeds with the making of the tile. 

[81] 




Fig. 61 Fig. 62 

Fig 61. Tile frame and two bases. Kig 62, Tile showing treatment of base. 

The form of the tile should be outlined and filled in with 
clay firmly wedged into a compact mass to the thickness of 
approximately 2 inch. It should be smoothed on the one side, 
turned over, and the reverse side finished in the same way. 
The use of a wet sponge is an excellent help in smoothing up 
the surface. If the tile is not well constructed that is, if the 
pieces are not firmly wedged together it may warp or break 
during the firing process. 

Experienced workers often roll out a tile to the proper 
thickness with a rolling pin and then trim to the desired size. 
After firing, a 6-inch tile measures approximately 5 Viz inches. 
Allowance should always be made for shrinkage, approxi- 
mately 1 inch to each 12. If several tiles of the same size are 
to be made, a press mold may be used. See Chapter Twelve, 
p. 157, Press Molds, Fig. 130. 

Another method is that of using a wood or plaster frame 
with at least two movable bases. Wood frames may be pur- 
chased from supply dealers. Plaster frames are very simple to 
'make. Fig. 61. Directions for making plaster frames: 

[82] 



( 1 ) Prepare clay tile, as model, a little large in size, allow- 
ing for shrinkage. 

(2) Place model in the cover of a cardboard box large 
enough to give a margin of 3 inches on all sides and with a 
turned-up edge at least 1 inch high. 

(3) Pour plaster, filling margin on all sides and only to 
the level of the clay model. 

(4) After one hour, when plaster has set, remove box 
cover. Remove model. Set plaster frame away to harden. 

The two pieces of linoleum, as bases, should not fit too 
closely, but only so that the clay tile may be pushed up and 
through the opening. The tile is then set aside, on the base, to 
become firmer. If planning a number of tiles, it is an advantage 
to have several bases. 

When the tile is smoothed and ready, the design is trans- 
ferred to the clay. Place the drawing face down on the tile; 
then, by firmly rubbing over the paper, the penciled pattern is 
imprinted on the clay. Remove the paper. With the rounded 
end of the tool, make a broad line through the center of the 
line of the pattern. Then, with the broader end of the tool, 
the clay may be smoothed back into the background. In doing 
this, the line of the design is given the appearance of a groove 
with rounded edges. The rounded edges cause the glaze to 
flow more freely into the line of the pattern. If the edge should 
be left clear cut, one would be disappointed in the firing, for 
he would find the white edge of the clay cutting through the 
glaze. 

In grooving the tile, care must be taken to keep the depth 
and width of the line uniform throughout. After the incising 
has been completed, the lines of the design and the tile, in 
general, may be smoothed. The thumb and fingertips, mois- 
tened on a damp cloth, serve as excellent tools for this pur- 
pose. When about leather-dry, four sections in the base are 
removed to the depth of about VB inch, depending upon the 
thickness of the tile. Fig. 62. This is a precautionary meas- 

[83] 



ure and helps to prevent warping. Lay off a half-inch mar- 
gin on the four sides of the base and proceed to plan the four 
areas. Next, carefully remove the clay and smooth the surface. 
When the tile is to be slip-painted or decorated with glazes, it 
is safer to prepare the base before the application of color. 

If the tile should break or warp with the base treated in 
this way, it may be that the clay is too plastic. This can be 
overcome by adding grog. This will make it less plastic. Grog 
is clay that has been fired (biscuit, not glazed), then crushed. 
This may next be put through a twenty- to fifty-mesh screen. 
The prepared clay mixture should be about one-fourth grog. 

After becoming thoroughly dry that is, bone-dry the tile 
may be put through the kiln for the first or biscuit firing. Be- 
fore adding the glaze to the biscuit tile, the base may be coated 
with a thin layer of paraffin. This prevents the glaze, when the 
tile is dipped, from adhering to the base. This coating burns 
off in the kiln, leaving the base smooth and clean. Next, the 
tile is dipped in glaze, the base wiped with a moist sponge, 
and it is then ready for the glaze or "glost" firing. 

Very frequently, when clay and glaze mature at practically 
the same temperature, the bone-dry piece, with the base prop- 
erly treated, may be glazed and fired but once, both clay and 
glaze developing in one firing. Otherwise, as stated above, the 
biscuit piece is glazed and fired a second time. 

THE TILE IN RELIEF 

In developing a tile in relief, the same procedure should 
be followed to the point where the design is transferred to the 
clay. If the pattern is a line design in relief, as in Fig. 63, it is 
more desirable to press back the background than to build up 
a line. For this reason the tile should be set aside until the 
clay becomes firmer before beginning the process. If the clay 
should be too soft, it will be difficult to handle. Later, when 
the clay is in condition, begin by using the tool to press back 
the background along the lines of the pattern. It is unnecessary 

[84] 



mtKiXmm<mimyjj% 



pf^!-. &! 

llSPRBSliS? 






Fig. 63. The relief tile. Line and patterned forms in relief. 

to lower the entire background. The smoothing back from the 
line gives a slightly rounded surface to the whole area, which 
is an attractive feature. The designs or line patterns, Figs. 60 
and 63 (left), are practically the same. It will be seen, how- 
ever, that the different methods in developing the design pro- 
duce a distinct change in the appearance of the pattern. 

If a second type of design is planned in which the pattern 
is in relief as in Fig. 63 (right), the highest relief is built up 
first, working from the highest to the lower areas. When the 
relief is completed, use the tool to define the forms definitely; 
then smooth the background. Before setting it aside to dry, 
prepare the four areas of the base. When bone-dry, it is ready 
for the first or biscuit firing. As previously stated, however, 
some potteries have their clay and glazes maturing at such a 
temperature that the clay with the glaze may be developed in 
one firing. If such is not provided for, the tile, first having been 
given a biscuit firing and the base paraffined, is then glazed and 
fired a second time. 

THE INLAID TILE 

In developing an inlaid or ''encaustic" tile, Fig. 64, the 

[85] 




Fig. 64. The inlaid tile. Tiles made of buff clay, inlaid with red clay, 

procedure is similar to that of the incised and relief tile, up to 
the point of transferring the design to the clay. Here, however, 
the procedure changes and a new method is followed. Now, 
with the design on the clay, the part of the pattern that is to 
be inlaid must be removed and that portion of the design 
filled in with clay of another color. This is a delicate operation 
and requires both skill and care. 

The preparation of the tile for the inlay should be started 
only after the clay is firm enough to handle. To insure a satis- 
factory piece of work, the clay of the inlay must "fit" or be of 
the same shrinkage as the clay of the tile. This is very impor- 
tant. If the clays do not fit, one will shrink away from the 
other and thus destroy one's effort. 

In removing the clay for the inlay, the line of the pattern 
may be cut to the proper depth, not more than 1 A inch, and 
then the clay gradually removed, using the wire tool, wooden 
tool, and possibly a sharp knife. Aim to keep the side walls of 
the cutout areas vertical with clear-cut edges. Fig. 65. These 
areas should not be allowed to become dry but should be fre- 
quently brushed over with water. They must be kept moist to 
hold the inlay. 

After the pattern has been entirely removed, the tile is 

[86] 




Fig. 65. The clay of the pattern has been removed; the tile is now ready to 
receive the inlay of red clay. 

ready for the inlay. Fig. 65. When filling in the inlay, the bed 
of the tile must be roughened, and slip made of the clay of the 
tile must be worked into the clay bed and the inlay wedged 
into this. 

After the inlay has been completed, see that no particles 
of the two clays adhere to the surface of the tile. Care must be 
taken to remove such particles; otherwise, they will, when 
fired, disfigure the surface. Finally, after the four areas of the 
base have been removed, the piece is set aside to dry. When it 
is bone-dry, go over the surface very lightly with a fine sand- 
paper to insure a well-defined edge to the inlay and a smooth 
surface for the glaze. 

If the inlay has been skillfully done, the tile will go through 



nnng wirnout a orcaK. After the biscuit 
firing, tiles in color inlay are given a surface finish of clear, 
transparent glaze. Consequently-, coat the base of the biscuit 
tile with paraffin, dip in a clear, transparent glaze, wipe the 
base with a moist sponge, and fire the second time. 




Fig, 66 Slip-decorated tiles. At left, buff clay tile with red slip-painted design, 
covered with a transparent gloss glaze. Right, buff clay tile with 
brilliant blue, light green, and gray-yellow slip-painted de- 
sign. Covered with a transparent clear glaze, 

in one pint of boiling water and keep it on hand for this pur- 
pose. It will thicken again but can be easily diluted. 

Slip must fit the clay body to which it is applied; other- 
wise, it will flake. Consequently, in preparing slip, it is safer to 
use the clay with which one is working and add the coloring 
material, or at least purchase the slip with the knowledge that 
it "fits" the clay body. If one is using white, gray, or buff clay, 
this may be pulverized and ground with a palette knife on a 
glass slab, then color added. This will insure the slip fitting the 
body. 

In making small quantities for immediate use, it is ad- 
visable to grind the pulverized clay and oxide together, add a 
little of the gum dissolved with a few drops of water, then add 
sufficient water to make a thick, creamy paste and grind again 
as before, finally adding enough water to give the consistency 
of cream, and secure an easy-flowing medium. It is best to mix 
the slip and wait from twelve to twenty-four hours before 
using. It should be applied to the freshly made piece while the 
clay is still moist. 

In proceeding with the building of such a tile, first the de- 

[89] 




Fig. 67. Applying the bright blue slip to the leather-dry day, 

sign must be planned. One may decide upon a geometric pat- 
tern or branch out into a freer form of design with beautiful 
lines and interesting spaces. All lines of the design should be 
blackened in with a soft pencil. Before transferring the design 
to the clay, prepare the base of the tile as previously described, 
with the four cutout areas. It is not necessary to paraffin the 
base until after the biscuit firing and before adding the glaze. 
Next, the design is transferred to the smoothed surface of the 
tile. If one should wish to outline the design as did the ancient 
Chinese, incise the pattern before applying the slip. Fig. 67. 

It is assumed that the slip is ready to apply. As stated 
above, it must be applied while the clay is moist. This will 
cause it to adhere to the clay surface. After completing the 
painting of the design, the piece is set aside to dry. 

[90] 



When bone-dry, it is ready for the first or biscuit firing. As 
previously stated, however, some potteries have their clay and 
glazes maturing at such a temperature that the clay with its 
glaze may be developed in one firing. If such a plan is not pro- 
vided for, the tile with its slip decoration must be given a 
biscuit firing. Next, the base is paraffined, after which the tile 
is ready for the clear, transparent glaze. After glazing, sponge 
the base free of all particles of glaze. The tile is then ready for 
the final firing. 

A TILE IN UNDERGLAZE DECORATION 

For this type of tile, free, fanciful designs with areas of 
varying size are especially interesting. Fig. 68. Although geo- 
metric patterns arc always acceptable, such patterns, especially 
if the design becomes intricate, are sometimes difficult to 
handle in colored glazes. 

First, plan the design, aiming for beautiful lines and a 
pleasing variety in the space areas. The design should be com- 
plete in both line and color before beginning with the clay. 
Select colors carefully, and aim to repeat the main colors in 




Fig. 68. Tiles in unclerglaze decoration. At left, gray clay tile; background, 
bright yellow; design, bright blue with green in waves; outlined in black. 
Finished with a clear, transparent glaze. Left, gray clay tile; background, light 
green; sunflower, yellow; center and stems, brown; leaf, dark green. Outlined 
in black. All-over clear, transparent glaze. 

[91] 



subordinate areas. This helps to give balance to the pattern. 

After the design has been completed, prepare the tile. 
When it is smooth and firm, transfer the design, the lines of 
which have been blackened in with a soft pencil. Next, begin 
defining the pattern by pressing back from each side of the 
line, leaving it raised and approximately \\(\ inch or less in 
width. This will form a raised line between areas and keep the 
colors from mingling when going through the kiln. See that 
the edges of the lines are rounded so that the glaze will flow. 

Another method in securing this line is that of outlining, 
with a small brush, each area with a fine line of slip and, as the 
line dries, going over it again and again until it is sufficiently 
high. 

When the tile has been smoothed and is somewhat firm, 
cut out the four areas of the base and set it aside to dry. When 
it is bone-dry, two methods are possible for glazing and firing, 
depending upon the maturing point of clay and glazes: 

Method A 

(1) In the bone-dry stage, the tile is given the biscuit 
firing. 

(2) The design is then painted in, in underglazc colors, 
and the tile fired to develop these glazes. 

(3) The tile base is paraffined, and the piece is clipped in 
a clear, transparent glaze, the base sponged off, and the tile 
fired the third time. 

This means three firings to complete the piece. This is the 
usual method followed in schools and studios. 

Method B 

(1) The tile in green clay, but bone-dry, is painted in 
underglaze colors to complete the design. 

(2) The base is paraffined, the piece clipped in a clear, 
transparent glaze, the base sponged off, and it is rcadv for the 
kiln. 

[92] 



This means that the clay body, the underglaze colors, and 
the final transparent glaze are developed in one firing. This 
method is followed where the maturing point of clay and 
glazes is practically the same. 

In the application of underglaze colors to either the bone- 
dry or biscuit piece, a earners-hair brush should be used. After 
applying glaze, avoid, if possible, going over the glaze-painted 
surface. The glaze should be kept thin. If it becomes heavy, 
the piece will probably come from the kiln flecked with little 
holes. 

After the different areas have been covered, begin the out- 
lining. Black is effective for this, though, of course, the de- 
signer may use any color he prefers. If one so wished, he could 
do the outlining first and follow by filling in the different areas. 

After having followed either Method A or B above, in com- 
pleting the tile, the finished piece will come from the kiln 
with a clear, transparent glaze, covering and thus protecting 
the underglaze colors. 

This final transparent glaze not only protects the under- 
glaze colors, but gives the proper finish to the clay body which, 
otherwise, would be in biscuit form. 

A TILE IN OVERGLAZE DECORATION 

Ovcrglazc colors arc applied after the body glaze, usually 
transparent, has been fired. Fig. 69. 

First, the design is planned in both line and color. Next, 
the tile is built and the four areas of the base removed. When 
bone-dry, the tile is given the first or biscuit firing. After com- 
ing from the kiln, the base is paraffined and the tile dipped or 
sprayed with glaze, usually clear and transparent. The piece is 
then fired the second time. If, however, the maturing point of 
clay and glaze is practically the same, the bone-dry tile may be 
coated with glaze, the base sponged off, and the piece fired 
but once. 

With the glazed surface completed, the piece is ready for 

[93] 



the design. Thc pattern is 
then sketched on the glazed 
surface, or it may be traced 
with carbon paper, and the 
lines more clearly defined, if 
necessary, with India ink. 
These burn off in the firing. 

Prepared glazes arc used 
for this form of decoration 
and arc applied with a earners- 
hair brush. The matter of out- 
lining is left to the taste of the 
designer. When completed, 

c , . . , thc tilc goes to the kiln for the 

final firing, which develops the ovcrglaze colors at a lower heat 
than was the body glaze. 




Fig 69 Tile in overglaze decora- 
tion. Buff clay tile; clear gloss glaze. 
Colors violet, green, yellow applied 
over clear glaze. Outlined in black. 



A TILE IN SGRAFFITO DECORATION 

This method of decoration is interesting, especially since it 
has been practiced from ancient times down to our own mod- 
ern day. It was made famous in this country by the early set- 
tlers in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Germans A choice col- 
lection of early work, both in slip-painted decoration and 
sgraffito ware, may be seen in the Pennsylvania Museum of 
Art. 

The practice is said to have originated in localities where 
only two kinds of clay were common. As early as thc tenth 
century the method was widely practiced in thc Kast, in and 
about the Tigris-Euphrates valley. Thc body of thc wares 
which have been found in that area is dark red. This was 
completely covered with a light slip which was cut away in 
various patterns to form designs showing thc red body color 
In more modern times, both Mexican and Indian pottery has- 
been decorated in this manner. The ware is built of one color 

[94| 




Fig. 70. Tiles in sgraffito decoration At the left, red clay tile covered with a 
light slip. The slip has been scratched away to the foundation color, thus 
showing the design in the red undcrbody. An all-over clear, transparent glaze 
completed the project. Right, buff clay tile with incised line (after ancient 
Chinese pattern). After being dipped m red slip, the surface was scratched 
away, leaving the red slip in the incised line forming the pattern. Finished 
with an all-over clear, transparent glaze. 

and when leather-dry is covered, probably by dipping, with a 
slip of light color. Before this is completely dry, the design is 
cut or scratched through to the foundation color. Hence the 
"sgraffito" or "scratched" ware, a name given to it by the 
Italians, who practiced the art extensively. 

In developing a tile in this style of decoration, decide first 
upon the clay for the main body of the tile. Compare tiles. 
Fig. 70. Designs may be, planned for surface decoration as in 
the first tile, or the pattern may be incised as in the second. 

In developing a surface pattern, plan the design first, care- 
fully considering its appearance when the body of the design 
is scratched through to the foundation color. Next, build the 
tile, smooth the surface carefully, and remove the four areas 
in the base. Set aside to become leather-dry. 

The slip bath of light color is then prepared by dissolving 
powdered clay in water until it is of a creamy consistency. 
Before dipping the tile, moisten and slightly roughen the sur- 
face by going over it with a moist sponge. This will cause the 

[95] 



slip to adhere more readily. When ready, it is dipped face 
down in the bath of slip, held for a second or two, then turned 
face up and set aside to dry. The tile may be given two or 
three such coatings if necessary. It should be sufficiently heavy 
to show an effective pattern when scratched through to the 
foundation color. 

When leather-dry, the design is sketched on the coating, or 
it may be traced. Then, with a sharp knife or a tool for the 
purpose, the coating is scratched from the solid parts of the 
design, making a clearly defined edge to the pattern. When 
this is completed, the tile is set aside to dry thoroughly before 
firing. 

In making a design for an incised pattern, the method dif- 
fers somewhat. After planning the design and preparing the 
tile, including the four cutout areas of the base, the pattern is 
transferred to the surface and the lines of the design are in- 
cised. The tile is then set aside to become firmer but not dry. 

Next, prepare the slip bath of contrasting color. When 
ready, go over the tile surface with a moist sponge, slightly 
roughening it. This will help to hold the slip coating. Next, 
dip the tile, face down, and hold for a second or two in the 
bath. Then immediately turn face up and set aside to dry. 

The slip settles in the incised lines of the design as well as 
coating the surface. Such a design may need several coatings 
to bring the slip up to the face of the tile. Continue the dip- 
pings until the surface appears satisfactory for the next step, 
that of removing the surface coating. When satisfactory, set 
aside until about leather-dry. 

With a knife or tool for this purpose, the surface coating is 
then scratched away, leaving the contrasting color in the 
grooves of the pattern. Next, go over the surface lightly with 
a fine sandpaper to smooth it. Then set aside to dry thor- 
oughly. 

Both tiles are now completed to the same degree; that is, 
each has been set aside to become bone-clry. Next, each is 

[96] 




Fig. 71. Tiles in placed design. Gray clay tiles, patterns pierced; finished with 
bright yellow gloss glaze and powder-blue gloss glaze. 

given a biscuit firing to be followed by a transparent glaze. 
Before glazing, however, coat each base with paraffin; then 
dip or spray each tile with a clear, transparent glaze. Sponge 
off the base of each, and it is ready for the glaze or "glost" 
firing. 

The illustrations, Fig. 70, however, were fired but once, the 
one firing developing both clay and glaze. 

A TILE IN PIERCED DESIGN 

Like many famous clay techniques, the practice of devel- 
oping reticulated or pierced designs also goes back to the 
ancient Chinese. A tile with pierced design would seem rather 
fragile, but firing transforms the fragile into a very durable 
state. Such tiles when well designed and executed make a 
beautiful and useful ornament for the table. Solidity is given 
the piece by the solid center, the size and shape of which is 
planned by the designer. Caution must be exercised in plan- 
ning a pierced design to see that the open spaces are not 
monotonous in either size or shape, and that the connecting 
lines are of such a width that they also may add solidity to 
the piece. Such a tile may be planned l /2 inch in thickness or 

[97] 




COURTESY, CAROL JANKWAY .VIKDIOS, NKW YORK CITY 

Fig 72. Table top of twelve 6-inch tiles. Tiles were assembled and painted in 
underglazc colors as a unit, gla/cd and fired separately, then reassembled. 

less. Any thickness beyond Vi inch is difficult to pierce or cut 
through. Before piercing the design, it is advisable to cut out 
the four areas of the base to about VH inch or less. 

After the design has been planned, the lines, which should 
be fully 1/4 inch in width, should be blackened with a soft 
pencil. When the clay tile is firm but not dry, it is ready for 
the pattern. Do not allow the clay to become dry while cut- 
ting out the pattern, for it may break in the handling. The 
design is then placed face down and transferred to the clay. 
A small penknife is best for cutting out the design, cutting on 
the line of the pattern. When a section of the design has been 

[98] 



,f 




COURTESY, CAROL JANEWAY STUDIOS, NEW YORK CITY 



Fig. 73. Table top of six 6-inch tiles; subject "Adam and Eve" (Could be 

used as a cocktail tray in which a thinner and lighter-weight tile 

would be used ) Assembled and painted as a unit; glazed 

and fired separately, and reassembled. 

so cut, the bits of clay to be removed may be pushed through 
to the other side. As a rule, these pieces fall out readily if the 
cutting has been well done. After the pieces have been re- 
moved, it is imperative that the underside be trimmed and 
finished as well. Softly rounded edges to the lines cause the 
glaze to flow freely; also a rounded outside edge to the tile 
adds to its attractiveness. 

After completing the tile, go over the surface with a fine 
sandpaper and rub with a circular motion until all roughness 
disappears. Finally, brush over the entire surface with a moist 
sponge. Set the tile aside to dry slowly until it reaches the 
bone-dry stage. It is then given the biscuit firing, after which 

[99] 




Fig. 74. Modern tiles in rhythmic pattern, 

the base is paraffined. It is then ready for the glaze. Usually 
transparent glazes of delicate color such as powder blue, yel- 
low, pink, and lavender make very attractive tiles. After glaz- 
ing, sponge off the base and place in the kiln for the final firing. 
In Fig. 71, both clay and glaze were developed in one firing. 

One of the interesting uses to be made of tiles, especially 
those in colorful design, is that of planning two, four, or more 
as the top of a table. If the table is wrought iron and the top a 
frame with a base, the tiles may be merely set in the frame, or, 
if desired, they may be scaled in with cement. Such table tops, 
in which each tile is different in design but in the same style 
of decoration, make an interesting and colorful surface in 
combination with wrought iron. 

Another attractive project in table-top design is that of 
breaking the full area of the top into tiles and spreading one 
design over the entire surface. Then each tile, showing only a 
portion of the general design, is fitted when completed into 
its proper place in the assembled pattern. Figs. 72, 7x Such 

[100] 



arrangements of tile arc also designed for mantlepieces and as 
a background for wall fountains. 

A very modern form of tile used as a support for flower 
vases, plants, and similar purposes is that in which the tile out- 
line is a series of rhythmic curves and the surface design an 
incised line in harmony with the rhythmic flow of the general 
contour. Fig. 74. 

The decorative tile opens a wide field for practice in vari- 
ous processes of decoration which may be applied as well to 
other forms of ceramic work. At the same time, these various 
possibilities in decoration afford abundant opportunity for the 
creative artist in the field of design, especially in devising new 
forms and new uses for this age-old decorative tile. 

Bibliography 

Bossart, Ilclmutli, Ornament in Applied Art (Excellent color plates of historic 
tiles from many lands; also pottery and other historic design ) : E Weyke, 
794 Lexington Ave., New York, New York, 1924. 

Cox, Warren E, Pottery and Porcelain, Vols. I, II- Crown Publishers, New 
York, New York, 1944. 



[101] 



Chapter Seven 



CERAMIC ORNAMENT 



I 



n today's fashion world, ceramic jewelry, introduced in the 
early 1940's, is often regarded as an entirely new field in per- 
sonal ornament. True, the modern designs arc new, definitely 
so, but the use of clay for personal ornament is not at all 
new but old, even ancient. From time to time through the 




COURTESY, THE JANE SNEAD CERAMIC STUDIOS, INC., PmLADFXPniA, PA. 



Fig 75 Modern ceramic jewelry. Pin and earring set in oichid design white 

clay with delicate shadings of crimson 

102 



centuries, such personal ornaments made of clay, baked, and 
sometimes glazed, have pleased the fancy of both men and 
women. 

It is not surprising to learn that clay beads were one of the 
first ornaments modeled and worn by primitive man. Long 
before clothing appeared, the string of beads, sometimes 
chipped from stone, sometimes formed in clay, was an im- 
portant ornament for the neck and shoulders. The early Anglo- 
Saxons wore quantities of clay beads. Many of them were 
formed in variegated clays and often showed very pleasing 
patterns. A large bead of clay or stone was habitually worn as 
a pendant ornament. 

In ancient Egypt, among Egyptians of rank, the natural 
wealth of gold, silver, and precious stones precluded the use 
of clay ornaments. The less fortunate classes, however, con- 
tented themselves with rings made of clay, glazed and baked. 

Among other costume ornaments which from time to time 




COURTESY, THE JANE SNEAD CERAMIC STUDIOS, INC., PHILADELPHIA, PA. 

Fig, 76. Modern ceramic pin and earring set. Motif, white rose 
with green leaves. 

[103] 




COURTESY, THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO 



Fig, 77. Smiling Aztec heads wearing ear ornaments. Clay, 6x6 inches. Found 
in Vera Cruz 7 Mexico, fourteenth century. 

through the centuries have flowered, then faded, only to flower 
again, is the now very useful button, which, before its practical 
value was discovered, was used as an ornament on the dress. 
Perhaps the oldest record of glazed clay buttons is that repre- 
sented in the English collection known as the "Lord Amherst 
Collection/' This dates back to the time of Thotmes III, 
about 1550 B.C. These buttons arc oval in shape with fluted 
lines, are without shanks, and were probably fastened to the 
dress with glue. Similar ornaments in gold and silver have fre- 
quently been fashionable through the centuries and are known 
as "disks" or "heads." From the Near East and dating about 
the fifth century B.C. are many of these disks in gold not only 
disks but flat animal forms as well, among them the clcer and 
grifEn, and these very much resemble the popular lapel pins of 
today. All were glued to the garment. 

In the sixteenth century, a soft paste button made by mix- 
ing ground glass with the clay body produced new and exciting 
results. The buttons made of this material, after passing 
through the kiln, came out excelling the finest jewels in bril- 
liance. During this century, buttons were in their heyday and, 

[104] 




COURTESY, THE ART INSTITUTE OF 
CHICAGO 

Fig. 78. Aztec ear ornament. Terra 

cotta, 1 inch in dia , 1 /4 inches 

deep. Fourteenth century. 



though gold and jeweled but- 
tons were favored by those 
who could afford them, the 
new "lustre" buttons claimed 
an enthusiastic following. 

During the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the name of Josiah 
Wedgewood is written large 
in the history of English ce- 
ramics. He made a valued con- 
tribution to the world in his 
famous "jasper ware" (1775). 
This was the name given by 
Wedgewood to the porcelain 
bodies with cameo reliefs in 
white which he perfected. Today, when Wedgewood is men- 
tioned, there instantly flashes to the mind the white cameo re- 
liefs against a beautiful blue background. These cameos were 
adapted to and used as settings for rings, bracelets, lockets, 

pendants, and ear- 
rings. 

Beautiful exam- 
ples of jasper cameos 
exist in museum col- 
lections, especially in 
England. Among the 
prized pieces in the 
Old Wedgewood Col- 
lection is a bracelet 
showing eight oval 
cameos, graduated in 
size, the largest as the 
1 center, three on either 

COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART 7 

side, and a cameo 
clasp, the smallest in 




[105] 




COURTESY, THE ART INSTITUTK OF 
CHICAGO 

Fig. 80. Wcdgewood buckle White on 
blue jasper. Steel mount. 



size; also, unusual pendant 
earrings of oval drops, the 
first small and the lower 
elongated. Pieces are set in 
steel, gold gilt, or gold, and 
the several cameos of a 
piece are linked together. 
Before jasper colors 
were an accomplished fact, 
cameos were made in white 
and buff on a colored en- 
amel ground which was 
burnt in. In the popular 
buttons the backgrounds 
were painted with water 
color. The buttons were 
then mounted by profes- 
sional button makers. A 







COURTESY, THE ART INSTITUTK OF CHICAGO 

Fig 81. Weclgewood buttons. Blue jasper, cut steel frame, and blue jasper 
mounted on pearl. 

[106] 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART 

Fig. 82. Porcelain cane heads. Eighteenth century. 

crystal cover and metal backing with a metal shank made them 
sufficiently durable. 

As soon as the new jasper colors were introduced, the 
Wedgewood potteries produced thousands of subjects for 
buttons, small gems, jewelry, and every kind of ornamenta- 
tion. Indeed, so popular were the genuine jasper cameos 
that they were used for earrings, brooches, rings, bracelets, 
pendants, watches, in which the cameo was of convex form, 
and even set in the hilt of dress swords. Such was the ceramic 
jewelry of the eighteenth century! 

The jasper cameos also lent great charm to patch boxes, 
snuff boxes, scent bottles, and other objects so often found 
upon Milady's dressing table. Then, as if such uses were not 
enough to display their beauty, they were set as medallions in 
the finest furniture of the period! 

It is interesting to know that a "Cherokee" clay found in 
South Carolina was used in making the famous jasper body. 
In 1767-68, while important experiments were being made, 
an agent was sent from England to South Carolina to procure 
this clay. 

While the beautiful jasper ware held the lead in ceramic 
jewelry, other types of ceramic ornament continued fashion- 
able. During this period, canes were the last word in gentle- 
men's fashions, and owners were vying with one another in 
securing the choicest of ornamental heads. Fig. 82. At this 
time, porcelain heads were especially popular. They were de- 

[107] 



signed in various shapes and many of them painted in floral 
patterns, much after the manner of hand-painted china. About 
the same period, the porcelain knob or a pattern of other de- 
sign was a popular choice for Milady's parasol. 

In Japan, during the same century, Satsuma buttons were 
made from a porcelain body. The subjects represented were 
usually flowers, fish, and animals. Some of these were made of 
a soft paste body exquisitely colored, glazed, and crackled. 
The finest of Satsuma buttons are today much sought after 
by collectors. 

Of course, all of these various types of button finally found 
their way to America, where they were generally worn. In the 
year 1841, an American button maker, 'lliomas Prosser, of 
New Jersey, invented a new process which he describes as "an 
improvement in the manufacture of buttons." In this new 
process, the powdered clay, with metallic oxides for color, 
was pressed in metal molds with such force as to cause the 
clay to retain the form of the mold. These forms were then 
glazed and fired. Such pressed clay buttons were worn for 
many years. 

From 1895 to 1914, in both France and America, porcelain 
disks were painted much after the manner of hancl-painted 
china. After being fired, they were backed with brass and 
silver disks with metal shanks. Many of these buttons, at pres- 
ent being regarded as heirlooms, arc now being made into 
brooches. 

Modern ceramic ornament today is largely produced in 
private studios or by individuals thrilled with the idea of the 
creative possibilities. True, the pieces are fragile but, glazed 
and fired, they arc very durable. The beautiful glazes never 
fade but remain as brilliant as when first taken from the kiln. 

To one experienced in the art of modeling, the making of 
these miniature pieces is no great effort. The clay in the hands 
of skilled fingers is readily made to conform to the idea in 
mind. Bird and animal shapes may be modeled following the 

[108] 



same procedure as in figure 
modeling: 

( 1 ) Give the small piece of 
plastic clay the general shape of 
the mass. 

( 2 ) Follow by working out 
the more minute details lines, 
reliefs, indentures, etc. with a 
tool. 

The only difficulty is the 
fact that the piece is small and 
somewhat difficult to handle. 

Another method that may 
be advisable for those not so 
fluent with clay is through the 
use of pattern. 

MODELING FROM 
A PATTERN 

Make a drawing of the gen- 
eral outline only, keeping the 
pattern to the size the piece 
will be when completed. This 
may then be cut out and used 
as a pattern. A small bit of clay 
is then rolled out, possibly to 
Ys or 1 A inch in thickness. The 
pattern is laid on the clay and 
the outline cut. Follow by building upon this flat foundation, 
piece by piece, the form as planned, using the modeling tool 
where necessary and plenty of slip, especially when larger parts 
such as wings of birds, fins of fish, or leaves are added to the 
background. When completed, the form should be carefully 
smoothed as much as possible before the clay is permitted to 
dry. This will make less handling of the piece and less finishing 

[109] 




COURTESY, JESSIE F. BRYAN, MERRY-GO- 
ROUND STUDIO, ORONO, MAINE 

Fig. 83. Modern ceramic necklace. Wild 
cherry motif. (Native to Maine.) Blos- 
soms, white; leaves, various greens and 
yellow greens. 



to do. After the piece is thoroughly dry, it may be advisable to 
touch over the surface very, very lightly with the finest of steel 
wool, removing any superfluous specks or grains of clay and 
thus insuring a smooth and pleasing surface for the glaze. The 
piece is then ready for the first or biscuit firing. 

MODELING OF FRAGILE PIECES 

The more delicate and fragile pieces, such as roses, leaves, 
and various floral shapes, may be more easily modeled if some 
simple method which has proved satisfactory is suggested. For 
instance, in making roses, leaves, and other very thin parts, or 
petals of flower shapes, use very moist clay and press until very, 
very thin. 

In making a small rose for jewelry, roll out a strip of clay 
4 or 5 inches in length until it is possibly % to i/m inch in 
thickness. Cut the strip to the desired width, perhaps % to l /2 
inch. With this thin strip in hand, press the edge, especially, 
and the full strip if desired, firmly between the forefinger and 
thumb until it becomes about paper thin. Next, begin rolling 
the clay. Fig. 84. The center seems to rise naturally, and this 
should be kept rather high. It forms the compact center of the 
rose. As the form grows, the remaining length may be formed 
into petals freehand, or it may be detached from the center 
and tiny petals cut from the pieces and added to the center 
until the form is complete. In adding these pieces, a generous 
supply of slip should be used to insure a firm joining. Petals 
should be given a pleasing form by turning or rolling the edges. 
Leaves may be cut from the thinned clay and attached to the 
main body. These should be given life and vitality by curling 
and curving the shapes. Some markings, suggesting the vein- 
ing, may also be desirable. After the pieces arc thoroughly dry 
and smoothed, they are ready for the biscuit firing, after which 
the glaze is applied and they pass through the kiln again. 

Though any of the clays suitable for firing may be used for 
ceramic ornament, the white porcelain clay is most desirable. 

[110] 




Fig, 84, Rolling the center of a flower form. 

The glaze effects over the white body are more pleasing than 
over the darker clays. Most pieces of ceramic ornament are 
glazed by applying the liquid with a brush, though it is pos- 
sible to dip them if only one color is used; or, if several pieces 
are to be glazed in the same color, the color may be sprayed 
on. In using two or more colors of glaze on a single piece, great 




COURTESY, JESSIE F. BRYAN, MERRY-GO-ROUND STUDIO, ORONO, MAINE 

Fig. 85. Blueberry pin and earring set. (Blueberries, native to Maine.) Berries, 
light and dark blue; leaves, green, yellow green, bine green, gray rose. 

care must be exercised in applying the color. Under no cir- 
cumstances should colors overlap or the tiniest spot of one 
color fall upon another. Such a mishap is glaringly apparent 
after the piece has gone through the kiln. Glaze is never 
applied to the backs of such pieces, though one must use care 
in applying the color well over the edges and not depend upon 
the glaze to run over the edge. 

Ceramic pieces are placed in the kiln in a horizontal posi- 
tion; hence the glaze does not run as it would were they placed 
vertically. If a piece comes from the kiln and the glaze is 
found to be unsatisfactory, it may be rcglazcd and fired a 
second time. 

After the pieces come from the kiln, they are fitted with 
the necessary pins and fasteners, which arc held in place by 
jeweler's cement. These supplies arc furnished by dealers. Pins 
for brooches come in proper lengths, 1 and l l /2 inches, in 

[112] 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM 
OF ART 

Fig. 86. A watch set with wedgewood 
medallion. 



both metal and plastic, and 
some of these have safety 
clasps. Earring backs come 
in clip and screw style in 
both metal (gold color) and 
plastic, and these also are ce- 
mented to the backs of the 
pieces. In making button de- 
signs., the design may be 
pierced to permit sewing to 
the garment; or, if one 
wishes a shank, a small, light 
button of suitable size with 
metal shank may be im- 
bedded in the back of the 
clay model and allowed to remain until the clay is dry. After 
that, it can be readily removed and laid aside until the button 
form has been glazed and fired. It may then be cemented in 
place. Button shanks, however, are also supplied by dealers. 
The use of clay in the modeling of personal ornament has 
shown an interesting and varied development through the 
centuries. The ceramic ornament of the present day is en- 
tirely different from previous periods both in the choice of 
design and in its finish. One fact, however, stands forth: 
through the centuries, the plastic qualities of clay and its pos- 
sibilities have ever been an inspiration to the creative artist for 
the expression of original, unusual, and beautiful conceptions 
of form in personal ornament. 

Bibliography 

Barnard, Harry, Chats on Wedgewood Ware: T. Fisher Unwin, London, 

1924. 
Snead, Jane, The Potter's Primer (Covers the making of present-day ceramic 

jewelry.): Jane Sncad, Jenkintown, Pa., 1943. 



Chapter Eight 
LOTTERY ^MAKING 



E 



rom ancient times, pottery making has been a favored 
craft of primitive peoples. Nearly all prehistoric peoples have 
made and decorated clay pots, bowls, jars, and other utensils. 
In our own land the various Indian tribes were making their 
clay pots and bowls long before the white man came, and their 
way of working probably was like that of all primitive races. 

The clay was usually dug from the hillside by hand with 
the aid of a shell or stick. As it was gathered, the finer was 
separated from the coarser, for the fine clay was generally re- 
served for small pottery forms, while the coarser was more 
suited to the large clay pots and storage jars. Next, in order 
to remove all pebbles, the clay was washed in a nearby creek or 
river. These early peoples also discovered that when working 
with the clay it sometimes broke; in other words it did not 
have the required plasticity, or, as is said today, it was "too 
short/' To remedy this condition, finely ground shells and 
powdered stones were added to the clay body. In this way, the 
primitives "tempered" the clay and made it more workable 
or plastic. 

Many old pieces of pottery give evidence of having been 
molded inside of baskets. This appeared the easiest way to give 
form to the clay. The basket, with the clay shape inside, was 
set in the primitive kiln and baked. Naturally the basket 
burned away, but the imprint of the basket was left on the 

114 




PHOTOGRAPH BY NEW MEXICO STATE TOURIST BUREAU 



Fig. 87. San Ildcfonso Indian Pueblo, New Mexico. The designs Julian draws 
all have meaning. The most common represent the sun, the clouds, the wind, 
and the rain, for the sun and rain meant life itself to this early civilization. 




COURTESY, MKTKOPOUTAN MUSEUM OE ART 

Fig. 88 Predynastic pottery bowl. Egyptian; 7 inches in diameter. The 

white line decoration is a typical primitive border, and suggests the 

feeling of basket origin. 

outside of the clay jar. This leads to the belief that basket- 
making preceded pottery making, which may have been sug- 
gested by the earlier weaving of baskets. The working round 
and round upon a basket naturally led to the conclusion that 
clay could be formed in the same way. This not only accounts 
for the primitive method but for the present-day method of 
hand-built pottery as well the coiled method. 

It is also worthy of note that the print of the basket upon 
these early shapes was a source of ideas for decoration. Such 
imprints upon the clay no doubt suggested the simple designs 
so characteristic of early work that is, the simple incised line, 
the zigzag, and the scroll patterns. One idea soon led to an- 
other and gradually the native worker passed from the simple 
incised line to painting with colored clays upon the unbaked 
surface. Nor does the decoration remain limited to line ar- 
rangement, for among later pieces are motifs from nature, 
both flower and animal, and in our own country many sym- 
bolic forms from Indian lore, including the swastika, the 
thunder bird, clouds, rivers, mountains, and numerous other 
favorite patterns. 

[116] 




COURTESY, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART 

Fig. 89 Fig 90 

Fig. 89. Vase with five openings. Lotus decoration. Egyptian, Twelfth Dynasty. 

Fig. 90, Vase. Three handles; decoration of scrolls, an early type of pattern. 

Cretan, 1500-1400 B.C. 

This painting of one clay upon another was done with a 
brush made by shredding the fibers of a dried plant. Bits of 
the natural clay were pulverized, mixed with water to a creamy 
consistency, then applied to the jar. The same type of decora- 
tion has continued through the centuries, and, in the modern 
world, has resulted in some of the most beautiful and highly 
prized of ceramic work. In today's trade, this method of decora- 
tion is known as slip-painting or engobe work. After the slip 
has been applied to the leather-dry clay, the piece is set aside 
to dry thoroughly, after which it is ready for the firing process. 

The primitive kiln was nothing more than a hole in the 
ground filled with wood, dried leaves, grass, bark, and bits of 
broken pottery. After the finished piece had become thor- 
oughly sun-baked, it was placed in the hole, covered inside 
and out with all sorts of debris, and allowed to bake for a week 
or more. After being in the kiln for this period, it was suffi- 

[117] 




ciently baked. It was then removed and set aside to cool 
slowly to prevent breakage. 

In this primitive method of pottery making, one sees the 

moTT A r f Craft that WaS b rn of ^nctneees ty AD 
modern hand-bmlt pottery follows in the main the same 



' ' tllcir mc *ods of 
are today accepted as the most logical fully in 



ueh 
surtace to be decorated. Figs. 91 and 92 

["8] 



THE COILED METHOD 

Before beginning to experiment in building a pottery 
form, make a few observations with reference to shapes or 
forms in general. There are a few simple points that, if not 
observed, mean time and material spent in futile effort; 
whereas, in keeping these in mind, the result may prove satis- 
factory, and, indeed, it is quite possible that a beautiful piece 
of work may be achieved. 

The following points are worthy of consideration in plan- 
ning any pottery form: 

(1) Consider the proportion of height and width. Forms 
are more pleasing when this is not too evident; for instance, 
the height exactly twice the width, or three times the width. 
One and one half the width or one and two thirds the width 
would be more subtle and more satisfactory a ratio of 2:3 
or 3:5. 

(2) Decide where the greatest curvature should come. 
This should not divide the form half and half. Fig. 93. Com- 
pare A, B, and C. 

( 3 ) The contour or curve of a form is more pleasing when 
the curvature changes throughout the form. Fig. 93. Compare 
A, B, and C. 

(4) It makes for a more interesting form if the ellipse of 
the top and that of the base are not of the same size. Fig. 94. 
Compare A, B, C, and D, 

(5) Avoid sharp angles. The same general form when 
changed into a subtle curve is more pleasing, and in keeping 
with the plastic material. See p, 135, Fig. 105. 

Fine examples of Indian pottery, also modern pieces of 
pleasing form, arc worthy of thoughtful observation when 
contemplating such a project. 

Before beginning work in the clay, one should have a clear 
and definite idea of the form that he plans to build. After 
experimenting with several sketches, decide on one and draw 
it full size. If one half the form is drawn, the paper may be 

[119] 




Fig. 93 

folded on the center line and the full form cut out, giving the 
complete pattern. In cutting out the pattern, the part cut 
away, which gives the contour, should be saved If, with this 
as a pattern, another is cut from rather stiff cardboard, it may 
be used as a guide by holding it against the form and testing 
the contoyr of the built piece. Such a guide is called a tem- 
plate and is very useful for this purpose, 

In building upon a plaster bat, place the bat in water, 
keeping it there until it has absorbed all the water it can take. 
This will prevent it from taking moisture from the clay. Sup- 
pose a bowl with a base of about 3 or 4 inches in diameter is 
planned. With a bat of about the same size, a moist cloth at 
hand, and a batch of clay, one is ready to begin. Start building 
the base with small pieces of clay well worked together. The 
base must be thoroughly wedged and built to a thickness, gen- 
erally, of 1 A inch. Fig. 9 5 A. This, of course, depends upon the 
size of the piece. A very large jar would need a very much 
thicker base, while a very small vase may need a base much 
thinner. The base, however, thick or thin, should be well built. 
It is difficult to patch up careless work after the coils have been 
started. 

The base, having been well made, is now ready for the first 
coil. Fig. 9 5 A. These coils arc made by rolling out the clay, 
not with the palms of the hands, but using the fingers of each 

[120] 




Fig. 94 

hand. With the outward movement of the hands in rolling, 
the fingers are spread apart, and the clay is thus naturally 
drawn out. The coils should, as a rule, be close to x /2 inch in 
thickness. The size of the form, however, must determine the 
thickness of the coil. If coils are too heavy, the piece looks 
crude; if too thin, the wall sags, loses its form, often breaks, 
and cannot be completed with any degree of satisfaction. 

After the clay has been rolled out, one end of the first coil 
is fastened to the outer edge of the base and coiled upon it. 
The form may be built one coil at a time, which probably 
would circle the base two or three times. Coils should then be 
worked together and smoothed both inside and out. In 
smoothing, one hand should be on the outside of the form 
while working inside, thus keeping the inside pressure from 
destroying the contour; when working outside, the walls 
should be carefully braced from the inside. As one develops 
more skill, the walls may be built up spirally, several coils 
being added before the smoothing is done. Fig. 95B. Further, 
before the successive coils are added, the preceding coil may 
be flattened a trifle, thus making the surface better fitted to 
receive the next coil. If the clay should become somewhat dry 
in working, covering it with a wet cloth will keep it in condi- 
tion. Sometimes it is an advantage to have a bowl of slip at 

[121] 




Fig. 9 5 A. The base has been modeled 

in solid form, the first coil is set in 

place, securely wedged to the base, and 

the coiling process begins. 



Fig. 95B. Continuing the coil, keeping 
us near to the planned shape as possible. 




Fig. 95C. The lower part of the bowl 

has been smoothed both inside and 

out, while the upper coils are in place 

but not yet smoothed. 



Fig. 95D. Completing the form and 
testing it with a template. 



hand and use this between coils, thus helping to make the 
wedging more secure. 

The bowl, if on a bat, may be easily turned about and the 
curvature studied from all sides. This is one advantage in using 

[122] 



a plaster bat. If the template is used in the building, the finish- 
ing will not be difficult. If the walls seem too thick, some of 
the clay may be removed with tlje wire tool. If any irregular- 
ities appear upon the surface, these also may be remedied; or, 
if any depressions appear, these may be built up by adding bits 
of clay. If, however, a little unevenness does appear, this is not 
serious or to be regretted too much, for a hand-built piece is 
not supposed to have the mechanical perfection of a wheel- 
made or cast piece. It should have the subtle marks of being 
hand-built. Fig. 95D. 

Next, the top is leveled and the edges rounded and 
smoothed. Use a damp cloth to moisten the fingers for this 
process. The entire piece should now be smoothed and finally 
passed over with a damp sponge. After the clay has been al- 
lowed to stiffen a bit, it is removed from the bat, turned up- 
side down, and the base then finished. All superfluous clay is 
removed with the wire tool. A slightly concave effect may be 
given the base by pressing lightly with the thumb slightly in- 
ward upon the center and gradually rounding outward toward 
the outside edge. Under no circumstances should the form be 
allowed to harden before it is well finished. When completed, 
it is set aside to dry thoroughly before being submitted to the 
kiln. 

If zinc, tin, or plaster-lined boxes are not available, the 
unfinished pieces may be kept in good condition by covering 
them with a damp cloth and then adding another, or a second 
covering of oilcloth. 

Such is the simple procedure for all hand-coiled pottery. 
If handles or spouts are to be added, they are made separately 
and attached. These should harmonize in line with the form 
and appear to be a structural part of it. The place where the 
handle or spout is attached should be roughened and this and 
the ends of the handle or edges of the spout covered with slip 
and a little wet clay, then wedged firmly into the main form. 
The same practice holds for all attached parts or modeled 

[123] 




& 



g) 



nj 



decoration that is, roughen the clay, spread with slip and a 
little wet clay, then wedge firmly into the form. 

DECORATION 

Many forms are beautiful in themselves and decoration is 
superfluous. However, if decoration is to be added, such 
should be in conventionalized designs or abstract patterns. 
There are several decorative processes for the application of 
such designs to pottery and, surprising as it may be, the most 
natural processes were originally fashioned by the primitive 
workers in clay. The old-time incised line is still one of the 
best of these, chiefly because it is unobtrusive and yet may add 
a note of distinction. Other possibilities (see Chapter Six), 
some more desirable than others, are relief, slip-painting, 
undcrglaze and overglaze decoration, sgraffito decoration, and 
pierced design. 

A few observations with reference to a particular piece may 
be well to consider before planning the pattern: 

( 1 ) Docs the form admit of decoration? If handles have 
been added to a form, this, in itself, may be sufficient decora- 
tion and anything further may lead to overdecoration. 

( 2 ) Will the design be well spaced? A border should be so 
placed that the space which it occupies and the surface left 
undccoratcd give a pleasing variety in the spacing. The same 
must be considered in adapting any design to a surface. 

( 3 ) Where is the point of greatest curvature? Any decora- 
tion at this point tends to overemphasize the curve. The point 
of greatest curvature should remain undecorated. 

The incised line is the simplest form of decoration and, 
the nature of the material being considered, is, indeed, a 
logical one. Every design should be definitely planned before 
placing it on the clay form. If the design is to be incised, the 
form may be divided into halves, fourths, etc., as is best suited 
to the pattern, and the unit placed in each space. The unit, 
definitely planned, may be transferred to the clay; or, if the 

[125] 




COURTESY, ETHKL TYRRELL 
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY 



Fig. 97 



Fig. 98 



Fig. 97. "Marion's Pic Plate/' Decoration, "four and twenty blackbirds." Plate, 
red clay The design in white slip is drawn freely with a brush, a technique 
related to that of early Connecticut ware. Fig. 98. Slip-tracer. Slip-tracing was 
a method of decoration popular with the early Pennsylvania-German potters. 
Pressure upon the rubber cup forces the slip through the tube. Much of the 
early work was done in freehand style. 



paper is sufficiently thin, it may be traced with a pointed tool 
or pencil. When the design has been carefully indicated on 
the clay, a pointed tool may be used for incising the line. The 
edges of the line are then rounded back into the surface, as 
directed, thus giving the glaze the opportunity to flow evenly 
into the grooves. See full directions for incised decoration, 
p. 80, The Incised Tile. 

When the decoration is in very low relief, the design may 
be transferred to the clay, then the tool may outline the pat- 
tern and round back the roughened edges into the back- 
ground. If one wishes, the pattern, or parts of it, may be built 
up directly on the form. If small units of design are planned 
in either high or low relief, they may be modeled separately, 
then, with the aid of slip and moist clay, attached to the form 

[126] 



in the same manner as are handles and spouts. This method, 
adding units in relief, is known as embossed decoration. Relief 
decoration on a pottery form is, however, the least satisfying 
of the various processes. 

Another ancient source of decoration is the use of natural 
or artificially colored clays for painting designs upon the moist 
clay form. This is the old-time slip-painting, adapted to 
modern use. Fig. 97. See full directions for slip-painting, p. 
88, A Tile in Slip Decoration. 

While on the subject of slip and slip decoration, one may 
consider the art of slip-tracing. This process of decoration is 
accomplished by means of a little tool known as a "slip- 
tracer/ 7 It is a small rubber cup with a tube attached through 
which, by pressure on the sides, the creamy slip is forced out. 
The method of working resembles the way ornate frosting 
is added to the birthday cake. Fig. 98. An inexpensive cake 
decorator or a small syringe may be used for this purpose. The 
early Pennsylvania Germans used an earthenware cup with a 
quill inserted, through which the slip flowed freely without 
pressure. Often two or three quills were inserted, usually in a 
row. The designer could then make several rows with one 
passage of the tracer. The design is gradually raised by tracing 
the line of the pattern with the slip as it flows from the tube. 
The pattern may be traced several times if much relief is 
wanted; or, if one has a feeling for design, he may enjoy "frost- 
ing the cake" in freehand fashion, and always on leather-dry 
clay. 

Tracers were used especially for lettering and writing on 
clay dishes and tablets, and for the outlining of figures. 

A third possibility in decoration is the use of underglaze 
colors. Such colors are usually painted on the biscuit ware. 
The piece is then submitted to the fire and, after this, given an 
all-over clear, transparent glaze and fired a third time. A 
transparent glaze over an underglaze gives a brilliance to the 
color that can be secured in no other way. See full directions 

[127] 



for underglaze decoration, p. 91 7 A Tile in Undcrglaze 
Decoration. 

In overglaze decoration, the design is painted with special 
overglaze colors directly upon a glazed surface, hence "over- 
glaze" decoration. Submitted to the fire, the overglaze colors 
mature at a lower heat than did the body glaze. Full directions 
for this process, p. 93, A Tile in Overglaze Decoration. 

The popular sgraffito method, sometimes called "slip en- 
graved/' is still another source of decoration, and one which 
has brought lasting fame to the early potters of Pennsylvania. 
Fig. 99. As a rule, the designs of these early potters were 
drawn off-hand on the white slip coating which covered the 
darker body. The white slip was then scratched away, leaving 
the darker body color, the design, in definite contrast to the 
white coating. Fig. 100. One must be extremely careful in 
such freehand decoration, for one false scratch may severely 
affect the appearance of the design. It is much safer to plan 
the pattern on paper and then sketch or trace it on the white 
slip coating. Then one works with more assurance in securing 
a well-executed pattern. See full directions for sgraffito decora- 
tion, p. 94, A Tile in Sgraffito Decoration. 

Pierced decoration is applicable to such pieces as fruit 
bowls, lamp bases, and other forms not intended to hold 
water. The 'Chinese in particular developed this technique in 
their fine porcelains and later, during the eighteenth century, 
the style was revived by certain French potteries. Sometimes 
such pieces were planned with a second piece, which was water 
resistant, and fitted inside the outer pierced wall. Such pieces 
are very attractive when well designed and executed. Fig. 101. 
See full directions for developing pierced designs, p. 97, A 
Tile in Pierced Design. 

With so many interesting possibilities in the decoration of 
pottery forms, each of which produces different effects and in 
great variety, there remains for the designer only the mere 
matter of making a choice. 

[128] 




[129] 




COURTESY, JANE SNEAD CKRAMIC , 

5' h,Sn I!f fine V r , portio " cd ,P tter y lam P >Pl<>ys t" client advantage 
fi, I, P " ? P vf Ck d ?,' gns , of the Penns y lva Dutch. The prancing colt is 
finished in white crackle glaze, which gives a noticeably pleasing effect. 

SLAB-BUILT POTTERY . 

A second kind of pottery building is that made with slabs 
of clay, about i4 inch in thickness. This method takes care of 

[130] 




Kig. 101. Pierced decoration. Incense burner and fruit dish. 

forms planned with flat sides and more-or-less angular corners. 
Many useful pieces are made by this method, which has be- 
come popular for such objects as boxes, lamp bases, plant 
boxes, hanging baskets, ash trays, and six-sided bowls and jars. 

The first step in making a slab piece is to make a drawing 
or layout of the project. Fig. 102 shows the plan of a box, 
after the various pieces of the pattern have been cut and 
placed on the clay. The clay is then cut according to the pat- 
tern. This plan also considers the cover for the box which may 
be of the same size as the base, or from three sixteenths to one 
fourth larger on all sides. 

The clay should be in good condition, not wet, but moist- 
clry and easy to handle. It is advisable to cover the drawing 

[131] 




Fig. 102. Placing the wall in position and securing it on the inside with slip. 
Right, plan of the box, each piece laid out 

board with a piece of cotton cloth or oilcloth, with the under- 
side up, to prevent sticking. This should be secured by thumb- 
tacks. With this cotton cloth or oilcloth tacked tight on the 
board, prepare the clay for making the slab. First, knead the 
clay to rid it of air bubbles. Then lay it on the board and begin 
to flatten it out. When it is fairly well spread out, a rolling 
pin may be used to further the preparation. When rolling the 
clay, roll first forward, then sideways, and keep on in this way 
until the clay is about 1 A inch in thickness. Sometimes it is 
advisable to roll from the center in all directions until the clay 
becomes the proper thickness. If rolled continuously in one 
direction, this leaves a kind of wave or roll in the clay, which, 
if not corrected, never disappears. 

With the drawing at hand and the clay rolled out to the 
proper thickness, the next step is to cut the several clay slabs 
which go into the making of the box. If the clay slab is large 
enough, the whole drawing may be placed on the slab and the 
lines traced on the clay; or, which many prefer, the separate 
sections of the drawing are cut out on the line and each 

[132] 




Fig. 103 



Fig. 104 



Fig. 1(H. lulling the angular recess at the outside corner. Fig. 104. The 
completed box. 



pattern laid on the clay slab. If several small slabs have been 
made, the patterns may be laid to best advantage. Then, with 
a knife, the pieces are cut out following the edge of the pat- 
tern. The knife should be held vertically and a straightedge 
used to keep the line perfectly straight. In cutting, carry the 
cut beyond the corners so as to make a clear-cut corner. The 
knife should move easily through the clay; if it drags at all, 
the clay is too wet, in which case it is better to set it aside to 
dry a little before proceeding. 

The next step is to assemble the separate pieces. In joining 
all edges, a generous supply of slip is used, together with wet 
clay. The pieces to be joined should be roughened at the joint 
or checked, and the slip applied together with the wet clay. 

Assuming that one is ready to 1 assemble the sections of a 
box, first place the bottom of the box on the drawing board 
and set an end segment against it. Some prefer to set the 
segment on the base. This, however, is optional, Roughen and 
add slip to both edges to be joined. Fig. 102. Press in place. 
Then, taking a small roll of moist clay, press this into the 
joint on the inside, giving a rounded surface to the clay. Now 

[133] 



place the side segment in position and make the joining at the 
base first. Where the two upright segments meet, there ap- 
pears an open corner or angular recess on the outside. Fig. 
103. Roughen these surfaces and fill in with slip and a roll 
of clay. This gives a claylikc, plastic corner, and accordingly 
softens the mechanical effect which is so likely to creep into 
square-cornered boxes. Of course, the design in these filled-in 
comers is left to the designer. It is an opportunity for an 
interesting variety of possible handlings and may acid to the 
general design of the box. Fig. 104. 

Continue adding the segments with the slip and wet clay 
and the roll of clay at the base. Fill in the open corners with 
the roll of clay. When the box is finally completed to one's 
satisfaction, it may be set aside while the cover is considered. 

Covers are planned in various ways. If the piece should be 
a jar with a small opening, the cover usually fits over the open- 
ing. In a fairly large box, the cover is sometimes made to lie 
flat on the box and, to keep it in place and secure from sliding, 
little knobs are added at each corner just inside the cover. 
These fit into the box when the lid is adjusted and it wall not 
slide off. One may, if he prefers, run a little recess along the 
inside wall of the box in which the cover may rest. Still an- 
other method is to fit a flat slab about VH inch in thickness on 
the inside of the cover, leaving a narrow margin around it. 
This margin rests on the top of the four walls of the box when 
the lid is in place. The difficulty which arises in the fit of licls 
is due to shrinkage. If covers arc made a trifle large, after they 
are sufficiently dry, they may be rubbed clown to an acceptable 
size. 

After completing the building of a slab piece, decoration 
is considered. This may be an incised line, which is always 
attractive, underglaze or ovcrglazc painting, slip decoration, 
or the attractive sgraffito work. Fig. 99. For a detailed descrip- 
tion of the methods used in each of the above processes, see 
Chapter Six. 

[134] 



Bibliography 

Barber, Edwin A., (a) Pottery and Porcelain in the United States; (b) Tulip 

Ware of the Pennsylvania Germans: The Pennsylvania Museum and School 

of Industrial Arts, Philadelphia, Pa. 
Bmns, Charles F, The Potter's Craft: The Van Nostrand Company, New 

York, New York. 
Cox, Warren E., Pottery and Porcelain (Vols. I and II): Crown Publishers 

New York, New York, 1944. 
De Sager, W. A., Making Pottery: The Studio Publications, New York, New 

York. 

Dougherty, John Wolfe, Pottery A j fade JEsy: Bruce Publishing Company, Mil- 
waukee, Wis., 1939. 
Forsyth, Gordon M., Art and Craft of the Potter: Chapman and Hall, Ltd , 

1934. 
Lunn, Dora, Pottery in the Making: Dryad Press, London, Manual Arts Press, 

Monroe and Fayette Streets, Peoria, Illinois, 
Wren, Henry and Denise, Handicraft Pottery: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Parker 

Street, Kingsway W C. 2, London. 
York, Honore, Pottery Making (From the ground up): The Viking Press, 

New York, New York, 1941. 
Svec, J. J , Pottery Production Processes: Industrial Corporations, Inc., 59 K. 

Van Buren St., Chicago 5, Illinois, 1946. 
MAGAZINES 

Ceramic Age (has special department, "Art Ware and Pottery Section," 

of interest to craftworkcrs and students): 421 Parker Street, Newark 4, 

N.J. 

Ceramic Industry (containing many interesting news items of modern craft 

workers and their products) : Industrial Publications, Inc., 59 East Van 

Buren Street, Chicago 5, Illinois. 



[136] 



Chapter Nine 



THE COTTER'S WHEEL 



B, 



uilding pottery on a potter's wheel is one of the most 
fascinating experiences of the potter's craft. Fascinating, be- 
cause the plastic clay is so completely responsive to the slight- 
est touch. Unless one is well-practiced, the results are often 
disappointing, if not ludicrous. On the other hand, as one 
gains control not only of the wheel but the use of his hands 
as well, it is indeed inspiring to see a batch of ordinary clay 
transformed into a beautiful jar, bowl, or vase. 

Records show that as long ago as 4000 B.C. the Egyptians 
had worked out a simple potter's wheel. This was a small table 
revolving on a pivot. The hand gave the table a push and, as 
it revolved, the potter shaped the form. As the table slowed 
down, it was given another spin, and, no doubt, many more 
were necessary before the piece was completed. Later in 




FROM "MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF ANCIENT EGYPTIANS," WILKINSON 



Fig. 106. Egyptians making pottery on a wheel. From a tomb wall-painting at 
Bern-Hassan. ( 1 ) The inside and lip of a cup are formed as it turns on the 
wheel. (2) Potter forms the outside of a cup, indenting it at the base with his 
hand preparatory to removing it. (3) The cup is removed from the clay mound. 
(4) A fresh piece of clay is placed on the wheel. The small forms about the 
figures represent the pieces already made. 

137 



Egyptian history, about the time of the Ptolemies, 343-23 
B.C., an improvement was made on the old wheel. A large 
circular table was now placed lower down on the central axis. 
The ancient potter propelled this with his foot. On the top of 
this central axis, which was flat and about 8 or 10 inches in 
diameter, he built the clay form. With the new wheel, the 
hands never left the clay while the foot kept the wheel re- 
volving. 

All the later potter's wheels have been built on practically 
the same general principle. These have become known as 
"kick wheels/' With the coming of electric power, however, 
it was not long before the old-time kick wheel, with the 
laborious effort necessary to keep it going, gave place to the 
modern electrically driven wheel, with its greater ease in 
operating. Yet some of the old wheels are still in use. Many 
potters like them and are practiced in the art of "throwing." 
For those who have attained skill on the electric wheel, how- 
ever, there is no going back to the old. 

The ease and rapidity with which forms can be shaped on 
the electric wheel, the regularity of shape, the refinement and 
perfection of finish, make it an interesting and inspiring 
development of the pottery craft. 

What is known as throwing, or building on the wheel, is 
not easy to learn, especially in the sense that it can be immedi- 
ately accomplished. One attains skill gradually. It would be 
well for a beginner to watch an experienced potter build a 
form on the wheel, see how he raises the inert mass, then 
lowers it, brings it up into a cone, lowers it into a mound, 
hollows it out, and finally shapes it into the form he has in 
mind. In fact, he seems to delight in playing with the very 
responsive clay, making it do all manner of things until he is 
ready to set seriously to work. Of course, all this raising, lower- 
ing, and playing with the clay actually helps to bring the mass 
into better and better condition for the final shaping. 

In beginning work on the wheel, one should have at hand 

[138] 



a bowl of thin slip, a moistened sponge, and a few tools a 
knife, a piece of wire from 10 to 15 inches in length, and pos- 
sibly two or three flexible tools which may be of use as one 
gains skill in throwing and completing his work on the wheel. 
For the beginner, the following steps in controlling the 
clay and completing a form may be of assistance: 

THROWING AND CENTERING THE CLAY 

First, the wheel should be started, the right side moving 
away from the worker. Wet the wheel with the slip; then wipe 
it off. Taking a ball of clay about the size of a baseball, throw 
it straight to the center of the wheel. It is most important that 
the clay be accurately centered on the wheel bat or plate. 




Fig. 107. Throwing and centering the clay- 
[139] 



With the hands moistened with slip, rub over the clay. This 
makes the clay run more smoothly and cases the friction. Cup 
the hands firmly over the moist clay. Fig. 107. The hands 
should be held rigid and the elbows braced against the sides of 
the body as the next movement begins. 

RAISING THE CLAY MASS 

The turning of the wheel causes the clay to rise naturally 
in the shape of a cone. Fig. 108. Let the hands rise with the 
clay, and do not try to force or draw up the clay mass. The 
hands should not move or turn with the clay, but be held rigid. 
Now, as the wheel revolves, press the clay down again into a 
mound. To do this, hold the thumbs together over the top 




Fig. 108. Spinning up the cone. 
[140] 



and with the palms and especially the base of the thumb 

press firmly down. Again spin the clay up into a cone shape, 
and again bring it down. Such practice is very helpful in gain- 
ing control of the clay and may be repeated many times. 

OPENING UP THE MASS AND RAISING 
THE CYLINDER 

With the hands steadying the clay and the forearms braced 
against the sides of the body, bring the cone down into a low 
mound, preparatory to opening up the mass. Be sure that the 
clay is exactly centered. To prove this, bring the right fore- 
finger, steadied at the wrist, closer and closer to the clay until 
it all but touches. If the clay contacts the finger at any point 
it is not centered, and the operation of raising and lowering 
the clay must be repeated. Now, with the clay in the form of 
a domed mass and the hands cupped over it, press the tips of 
the thumbs into it, marking the center. This is only the begin- 
ning of opening up the mass. Again, the hands moistened 
with slip cover the clay while, as the wheel revolves, the 
thumbs sink deeper and deeper into the mass until within 
about l /z inch of the base. The feeling about how far to go 
and still have sufficient base to trim and finish is something 
that comes with experience. If one is doubtful, he may experi- 
ment with a stiff wire to get the remaining thickness of the 
base. The slight opening or hole will close again before the 
form is completed. 

Now that the mass is opened, the next step is to begin 
hollowing out the form. Cup the hands, wet with slip, over 
the outer surface, with the thumb of one hand pressing deep 
into the center of the clay mass while the other hand supports 
the outside wall. As the wheel revolves, slowly but 8 firmly pull 
the thumb from the center toward the outside wall. In this 
way, the clay mass is opened and the form gradually hollowed 
out. Fig. 109. 

Next, with the fingers of the left hand inside the form, the 

[141] 




Fig 109. Opening up the mass and hollowing out the form. 



forefinger against the wall, the thumb outside, and the sup- 
porting forefinger and thumb of the right hand as in Fig. 110, 
slowly as the wheel revolves, raise both hands. This movement 
of the clay between the forefinger inside, the thumb outside, 
and the supporting finger and thumb of the other hand, causes 
the clay to rise, and it begins to take the form of a low 
cylinder. With the hands in the same position, the walls may 
be carried higher if so desired. 

After the cylinder is formed and before raising the wall 
and making it of equal thickness, it is advisable to level the 
inner surface of the base and clearly define the line where the 
side walls begin to rise. If the form is low, this may be done 




Fig. 110. Beginning to raise the walls of a cylinder. 

with the finger or a tool with flattened end held against the 
base as it turns; if the form is high, a stick with squared end 
held firmly against the bottom surface will accomplish the 

same purpose. , 

With the inside surface of the bottom level and squared, 
begin raising and thinning the wall. With the hands slightly 
moistened with slip, place the left hand inside the cylinder 
with the second joint of the forefinger against the inside wal 
it the base Place the knuckle of the right forefinger against 
the outside wall opposite, and a little below the finger inside 
As the wheel revolves, gradually raise the finger inside and at 
the same time the knuckle on the outside, in this way raising 
and at the same time thinning tile wall. Continue gradually 

[143] 



raising the wall in this way to the height planned. In so doing, 
aim to keep the wall of equal thickness. If the first efforts are 
not successful and the wall is not of equal thickness, one may 
repeat the process, pressing hardest where pressure is needed 
and going lightly where the wall is satisfactory. This process 
used in raising and shaping a wall is known in the potter's 
language as "knuckling up." In Fig. Ill, the wall of a low 
cylinder was first made of equal thickness by this method, 
and is now being shaped by the same process. During the 
shaping, the wall may become still thinner, 

SHAPING THE WALL 

After securing an even thickness in a wall, it is ready to 




Fig. 111. Shaping the walls of a low cylinder by the "knudding-up" process, 

[144] 




Fig. 112. Shaping the thinned walls of a tall cylinder. 

be shaped according to the planned design. If the top of the 
cylinder is not level, it is best to even it before proceeding 
with the shaping. To do this, a sharp tool, usually a knife, 
is used. This is held in the right hand supported at wrist with 
the left. Gradually the knife is brought closer and closer to the 
top until it touches. If the opening is not level, the knife will 
trim off the surplus clay, which should be removed immedi- 
ately. 

With the top level, one proceeds with the shaping, which 
is controlled by the fingers of the two hands working in uni- 
son, following the knuckling-up process. With the second 
joint of the left forefinger deep inside the form and the 

[145] 



knuckle opposite and a little below on the outside, beginning 
at the base gently force the wall either inward or outward as 
the pattern indicates. When the curve is inward, press the 
clay inward with the knuckle; when outward, press the finger 
inside outward, shaping as one proceeds upward and con- 
stantly controlling the form in this way. Figs. Ill and 112. 
In Fig. 112, as the wide flange of the top forms, the clay is 
controlled by the fingers of the left hand inside as shown. 
Continuing the pressure and careful shaping of the clay in 
this way, the walls are gradually brought to conform to the 
planned pattern. 

FINISHING 

First, see that the inside of the form is free of all bits of 
loose clay. As the wheel revolves, smooth the inside with a 
moist sponge, holding it firmly against the surface. Then 
smooth the outside in the same way. See that the top is level. 




Fig. 113. Finishing the lip rim. 

[146] 




COURTESY, M. MAUDE SMITH, FORMERLY SUPERVISOR OF ART EDUCATION, 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BLOOMINGTON, ILL 

Fig. 114. Wheel-made pottery. The low bowl is a thrown piece with feet 
added, Matt glaxe, The tall pieces were originally "thrown"; handles, in keep- 
ing with the form, were then added to the two smaller vases, molds made, 
and the three forms slip-poured. Gloss glazes. 

Next, the lip is finished. Starting the wheel and with the 
thumb and forefinger of the right hand moistened with slip, 
they are held apart, the thumb on the inside, the forefinger 
on the outside down to the curve between the two. As the 
wheel turns, the curve between the two rounds the edge of 
the rim, Some craftsmen use the forefinger and middle finger 
in the same way. After the general rounding of the lip, any 
slight change in the thickness or thinness of the lip rim may 
be made by holding the right forefinger and thumb, supported 
by the left forefinger, against the edge as the wheel turns. Fig. 
113. 

FINISHING THE BASE 

Before removing a piece from the wheel to finish the base, 
it should dry for at least two hours. When ready to be re- 

[147] 



moved, a wire is used to cut it loose from the wheel. With one 
end of the wire in each hand, held taut, cut from front to back 
close to the wheel head. Then, with both hands, carefully 
remove the clay form. The piece must now be set aside to dry 
for about twenty-four hours. 

In finishing the base, the piece is turned top down, base 
up, and centered on the wheel. With a sharp tool held in the 
right hand, supported at the wrist by the left, and the wheel 
revolving, a circle is made around the base about l /2 inch in 
from the edge, the clay slightly depressed, then smoothed, and 
the individual's mark added. Next, using both hands, the piece 
is carefully removed and set aside to dry, preferably on a 
plaster bat. After the piece has become bone-dry that is, all 
moisture has been expelled it is ready for the biscuit firing. 

It must be added that this skill in using the potter's wheel 
is not gained in a day. It takes both patience and experience to 
become expert on the wheel. As one works, he learns many 
little skills for shaping and controlling the clay, for making the 
two hands work together, one supporting the other, and be- 
gins to understand the importance of getting the right grip 
on both the inside and outside of the clay form. It is only by 
observation of these points and by continued practice that one 
becomes expert in the general craftsmanship of wheel-built 
pottery. 



[148] 



Chapter Ten 
gLA2ING 



P. 



ottery that is baked only is always porous, and hence not 
yater resistant. For this reason a vitreous coating is necessary, 
t is believed that in the early days of pottery making, the idea 
>f using a vitreous coating, or glaze, came through accident. 
!oft pottery when overfired develops a kind of semigloss and 
t is possible and, indeed, highly probable, that some such 
ccident as this may have suggested the idea of glaze. 

The ancient Egyptians were probably the first to beautify 
heir clay objects with glaze. They applied glaze to beads, 
carabs, and other amulets, also the various little figures which, 
n later years, have been taken from the tombs. These have 
>een found covered with a blue glaze. In Persia, the blue 
;lazes used by this ancient people are unsurpassed in their 
)rilliance and beauty. The Chinese in the third century B.C. 
lad learned how to produce green-glazed earthenware. The 
Creeks, whose pottery is known for its beauty of line and dec- 
nation, did not use glaze. Their figures were drawn and 
>ainted on the ware. Glaze could not be controlled for this 
ype of decoration. About 1500, the potters of Italy covered 
heir reddish clay pieces with a creamy slip, to which tin had 
>een added to make it white and opaque. They then decorated 
he surface with bright colors. This ware became famous as 
'majolica/' named from the Island of Majorca, whence the 
nethod had originally come. During the same century, Lucca 

149 



della Robbia, the renowned Florentine sculptor, introduced 
for the first time the use of colored glazes on reliefs in terra 
cotta. His family continued the practice for which the name 
"della Robbia" is famous. 

In the olden days, potters made their own glazes and were 
limited in the range of color. In the modern world, the field of 
ceramics has widened. Today, glazes are prepared by technical 
experts, and in every desirable color, and these are available to 
all clay workers. 1 Though this is a great and welcome advantage 
to workers in clay, it still remains true that the greatest thrill 
comes in experimenting with one's own formulas and testing 
them out in the kiln. 

All glazes are basically glass. They are prepared in such 
form as will cause the mixture to adhere to the clay body, and 
when submitted to intense heat are transformed into a glossy, 
transparent coating or a soft, opaque covering. In this way pot- 
tery is made impervious to moisture. 

Glazes are supplied in powder form in both gloss and matt 
(opaque) and need only to be mixed with water to a liquid- 
flowing consistency for application to the "green" or biscuit 
ware. Full directions for the proportion of glaze to water are 
supplied with the material. After using any glaze, the hands 
should be washed. Particular care should be exercised in using 
glaze containing lead. 

All ware to be glazed must be kept very clean and free from 
dust or grease; otherwise, the glaze will not adhere. This is an 
important point. Before the glaze is applied, the base of the 
piece should be given a thin coating of paraffin. When the 
piece is dipped into the glaze, the glaze frees itself from the par- 
affin. The base is then sponged. In the firing, the paraffin 
burns off, leaving the base smooth and clean. 

Glaze is usually prepared in a deep, open bowl, pan, or 
other container and, when in large quantities, in tubs. It may 

1 Clays and glazes should be purchased from the same dealer to insure the glaze 
"fitting" the clay. 

[150] 



sometimes be applied to green clay, and always to biscuit, in 
four ways, namely: dipping, pouring, spraying, or brushing. 

(1) Dipping is the method generally used for applying 
glaze to all flat and hollow ware. Small pieces of pottery are 
glazed both inside and out by this method. The piece is held 
at the upper edge by the forefinger and at the base by the 
thumb. It is immersed in the glaze, lifted, shaken a little to 
eliminate excess glaze, and set upside down on two parallel 
bars placed over the container. All glaze dropping off falls into 
the container. Any spot where the piece may have been held 
is touched up with the finger dipped in glaze, or with a brush. 
After sponging the base, the piece is left to dry. 

Flat ware is taken from the glaze, the excess shaken off, the 
piece rotated in the hand to even up the glaze, the base * 
sponged, and the piece set face up to dry. Avoid touching the 
ware until dry. 

(2) When pouring the glaze over the outside of a piece, 
it is necessary to place the piece upside down over two parallel 
bars laid across the opening of the container. With a cup or 
saucepan filled with glaze, the liquid is poured over the base 
and allowed to run down the sides until fully covered. If the 
upper edge needs touching up, this may be done after the 
glaze is dry. Sponge off the base and let stand until dry. Then 
remove carefully. 

( 3 ) In spraying, a special sprayer is needed also a wheel 
unless the worker can turn the piece as he sprays. The piece is 
set upon the wheel and, when ready, the wheel is started. The 
spray gun, when opened, should never be turned directly at the 
piece ? but the full spray should be brought gradually into con- 
tact with the piece and, when the piece is completely sprayed, 
moved off in the same way. This prevents glaze from running 
and forming ridges. If a piece is preheated before spraying, the 
glaze dries immediately and thus assists greatly in securing an 
even coat over the piece. In case no wheel is at hand, the piece 
may be set upon a table and sprayed, then moved and sprayed 

[151] 



again until it is satisfactory. Avoid handling a piece until dry. 

(4) In brushing, a small, flat brush is used. This is dipped 
into the glaze and applied to the clay in broad, even strokes. 
An effort should be made to direct the strokes in the same gen- 
eral direction. Avoid going over the glaze-painted surface. 

All pottery pieces need a glaze on the inside. Small pieces, 
in the process of dipping, are coated both inside and out. 
With larger pieces, the inside glaze is always poured. Fill the 
ware about half full with the liquid glaze. Tilt and turn the 
piece until the inside surface is thoroughly coated; then pour 
the remainder into the container and set the ware aside to dry. 
This should be done before coating the outside with glaze. 

Nearly all glazes mature around 1900 to 1940 Fahren- 
heit, and clays may be secured that mature at a corresponding 
temperature. The dealers in pottery supplies provide the nec- 
essary information with reference to the maturing point of the 
various clays and glazes, thus practically insuring successful use 
of them. 



[152] 



Chapter Eleven 

FIRING 



p. 



ottery is of little or no practical value until it is fired. The 
primitive peoples early discovered this and set about to find a 
way to make their clay pots and jars durable. These early efforts 
are nowhere more interesting than in America. 

At first pottery was used largely for storage purposes and for 
carrying food and water, taking the place of earlier vessels of 
stone and reed. Later the clay pots were used for cooking. 
They were first sun-baked, and later baked more thoroughly by 
placing them in a pit filled with burning bark and other fuel 
and covering them with the same. The pieces were usually 
prevented from touching by broken pieces of pottery set be- 
tween them. All draughts were eliminated during the firing 
and, as the pieces cooled, this protected them from breaking. 
The ware was left in the pit until the fire hardened the clay 
and made it strong. It did not, however, cause a change in the 
mineral content of the clay, as do our modern kilns. Such is 
the nearest approach to a kiln found among primitive peoples. 

In various American museums, especially in those of the 
West, one may see rude pots, smoke-stained and cracked, jars 
and bowls, all of great size, and all mute evidence of the skill 
and ingenuity of these early Americans. 

The Egyptians were probably the first people to use a kiln. 
A record in the form of an ancient mural shows a high chamber 
made of brick; the floor set up from the bottom was perforated, 

153 



and in the space under the floor was a small compartment for 
fuel, which was fed into the space through a small door at the 
side. Fig. 115. 

The Greeks used a kiln similar to that of the Egyptians, 
except that the top was dome-shaped. The fuel chamber was at 
one side of the firing chamber. This had a door that could be 
opened to admit or withdraw pieces. Many of the large kilns of 
today are based on the general principles of the Greek kiln. 

Today pottery may be fired in oil-burning, gas, or electric 
kilns. The sizes of the various firing chambers vary from the 
smallest used for firing miniature pieces, approximately 
W2 x 3^2 x 4 inches, to those of much greater capacity. The 
smaller ones are largely for school, studio, and private use. 
Fig. 116. They are supplied by pottery dealers at very moderate 
prices and with full directions for stacking and firing. 

The large commercial potteries have extensive kilns, some- 
times known as ovens. The ware is usually stacked, without 
touching, on a series of tables arranged as shelves, one above 
the other. With the touching of a button, the great tables with 
their precious load begin to move and pass into the first oven 
of low heat, and then on, moving through a series of increasing 
heats until they reach the last, by which time the glaze has 




FROM "MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF ANCIENT EGYPTIANS/' WILKINSON 



Fig. 115. Egyptians firing pottery. From tomb painting at Beni-Hassan. (1) 
Potter forms a round slab of clay with his two hands. (2) Preparing the oven, 
stirring the fire. Note fire rising through the long narrow tube or chimney, 
upon the top of which the cups are placed to bake. (3) One figure hands cups 
to the baker, who places them on the top of the oven. (4) Carrying away the 
baked cups, probably to the storehouse. 

[154] 




COURTESY, THE JANE SNEAD CERAMIC STUDIOS, INC., PHILADELPHIA, PA. 



I ( 'ig. 116. A modern, portable electric kiln, made in three sizes, operates on 
ordinary 110-V house current. 

reached the maturing point. This usually takes about twenty- 
four hours. Then, at the proper moment, the same shelves 
loaded with the same ware gradually emerge carrying the fin- 
ished merchandise. It seems like a bit of magic to see, first, the 
unfinished ware enter the kiln and then, after twenty-four 
hours of intense heat, to see the same ware quietly emerge 
bathed in the brilliance of colored glaze! 

There are two stages in the firing of pottery the biscuit 
firing and the glaze or "glost" firing. The biscuit firing is the 
first firing and is for the purpose of expelling all moisture and 
fusing the mineral content of the clay into a consolidated mass 
under the action of great heat. The biscuit-fired piece will not 
hold water; consequently, it becomes necessary to coat the 

[155] 



ware with a covering of glaze and submit it a second time to 
the intense heat. This is for the purpose of developing or ma- 
turing the glaze, which makes the biscuit ware nonporous. In 
the second firing the piece goes into the kiln with a coating of 
glaze, either transparent or matt (opaque) and, after the glaze 
has developed, it comes out either with a finish resembling a 
coating of glass or with an opaque finish. Transparent glazes 
are made opaque by the addition of oxide of tin. 

Every clay has a maturing point, usually about or slightly 
above 1900 Fahrenheit. In order to determine when the ma- 
turing point is nearing or has been reached in the firing of 
either biscuit or glazed ware, pyrometric cones are placed in- 
side the kiln. These cones are made of various mixtures of ce- 
ramic materials so that they will begin to bend at the time the 
ware or glaze is beginning to mature. Through the peephole in 
the kiln, one watches the cone and can judge the degree of 
heat by the extent to which the cone bends. When its tip 
touches the clay base in which it is imbedded, the ware or 
glaze has reached the maturing point. The heat is then turned 
off and the kiln left to cool gradually. Not until the kiln has 
completely cooled may it be opened and the pieces removed. 

Today, with the great advances made in the firing of ce- 
ramic wares, especially in the large commercial potteries, the 
maturing point of clays and glazes is so well calculated that a 
piece of green clay, decorated with slip or underglaze colors 
and coated with a final transparent glaze, may be fired but 
once, and all three, the clay, the underglaze colors, and over- 
glaze are developed in the one firing. 

It is the firing of glazed pottery that is the greatest thrill to 
the clayworker. It is always with questioning anticipation that 
the kiln is opened, for one is never sure of results. Occasionally, 
to the potter's great joy, a single piece may be found upon 
which the fire has wrought a miracle and created one of those 
unusual and beautiful effects, produced, no one knows how, 
but by some unaccountable action of the heat on the glaze. 

[156] 



Chapter Twelve 

;MOLD BAKING AND CASTING 



T 

JLhe 



_he pressing of clay within a gourd, basket, or other form to 
give it shape was probably one of the earliest discoveries which 
led to the making of molds. Primitive man, shaping the form- 
less clay within some such object, placed it in the fire and, after 
a few days, found a shape like the original gourd or basket. The 
gourd or basket, however, had burned away, leaving this coun- 
terpart, useful for storing and carrying food. 

Since that distant day, the making of molds has grown 
apace. Every worker in clay, whether modeling wall plaques, 
designing book ends, figurines, or pottery, likes to try his hand 
at making a mold and casting a replica of his original model. 

Under the term "mold making/' one will find that various 
kinds of molds are useful in clay work. The main types are: 
(1) Molds for slip casting; (2) molds for plaster casting; (3) 
press molds; (4) flexible molds; (5) waste molds. 

Molds for slip casting are used for reproducing pottery 
forms and figures which are to be glazed and fired in a kiln. 

Molds for plaster casting are used largely for the commer- 
cial reproduction of plaques, book ends, figures, and other ob- 
jects which may be adapted to plaster. The casts from such 
molds are then given a suitable surface finish. 

Press molds are similar to the slip and plaster molds. They 
are used chiefly because they provide a quick and inexpensive 
way to reproduce a clay model. 

157 



Flexible molds are made of treated rubber and other pre- 
pared and flexible materials. Such molds make is possible to 
reproduce models with difficult details, such as undercuts and 
returns, with greater satisfaction and less time than when mak- 
ing piece molds. 

Waste molds are made in plaster and are chipped away as 
"waste" to release the model. Such molds are made when only 
one reproduction is planned. 

In all mold making, plaster of Paris is in constant use. In 
the use of this material, if the work is to be carried on with any 
degree of order and success, it is most important strictly to ob- 
serve the following "musts." 

( 1 ) Under no circumstances should bits of plaster, dry or 
liquid, or sediment which has been left standing in pans and 
bowls which have contained plaster, be permitted to go into a 
drain. This will clog a drain. Have a bucket or pan of warm 
water at hand and immediately wash one's hands and all 
spoons and pans used in mixing plaster before the plaster has 
hardened. Then see that the water is not allowed, to go into a 
drain. 

(2) Spread newspapers on floors and tables about the 
working quarters. These may be readily picked up afterward 
and will leave less trace of clay and plaster. 

( 3 ) If splashes of plaster appear on the clothes, these may 
be brushed off when dry. 

(4) All plaster of Paris should be fresh and should be pur- 
chased as required. It should be kept in a warm, dry place, for 
plaster will absorb moisture and, as a consequence, is not satis- 
factory for use. 

In the commercial production of pottery and other ce- 
ramic forms, the molds are usually made by experts. The 
model is cast in slip, or liquid clay, and when thoroughly dry 
(that is, bone-dry) glazed and fired. In preparing such molds 
for slip casting, as well as molds for plaster casting, there are 
two important mixtures that will be in constant use: 

[158] 



(1) Slip 

Slip is a liquid clay of creamy consistency. It is prepared in 
quantity by sifting powdered clay into a container half filled 
with water. The clay will sink to the bottom, building up grad- 
ually to the surface. When it appears at the surface, enough 
clay has been added. This should stand for about an hour. 
Then sink the hand below the surface and stir vigorously. The 
resulting mixture is slip. 

If the slip feels sticky, a little fine sand added and mixed 
thoroughly will help it. If it feels sandy, let it stand, thus giv- 
ing any sediment time to settle, and then the clear slip may be 
poured into another container. It is good policy to run the slip 
through a 60- or 80-mesh sieve and let stand for about twelve, 
hours. If water accumulates on the top, remove this before 
using. A little sal soda added to the water in making slip im- 
proves it for casting. Casting slip should weigh about twenty to 
twenty-four ounces to the pint. 

(2) Size 

When plaster is poured over any models made of plaster, 
wood, glazed and fired pottery, glass, or metal, the surfaces of 
such pieces must be sized to keep the plaster from adhering to 
the surface. Size makes a surface nonabsorbent. Size is never 
used on "green" clay, for it would soften the surface. Though 
various materials, such as linseed oil, shellac, grease, and slip, 
arc often used as size, the following mixture is very simple to 
prepare and is thoroughly satisfactory. Since it can be reheated 
many times, it will be a ready means for performing several 
operations. 

Size Mixture 

1 quart water 
1 large bar castile soap 
1 A pint melted paraffin 

Shave the soap into the water. Set on a low flame until dis- 

[159] 



solved. Pour in the melted paraffin. Set aside to cool. When 
about the consistency of thin syrup, it is ready to use. Such a 
prepared solution is also known as a "separator." 

Prepared separators are supplied by dealers in clay supplies. 
Other recommended separators are: 

(1 ) Equal parts of lard and tallow applied hot. 

(2) Two tablespoonfuls of soft soap to one pint of boiling 
water. 

( 3 ) If the mold is clean and very dry, several coats of white 
shellac with a final coating of sweet oil over the surface before 
the plaster is poured. 

(4) Clay and water beaten to the consistency of cream; 
that is, slip. 

Applying size: The following method in applying size is 
important: 

( 1 ) Fill the brush and work over the surface. 

(2) Wipe with a damp sponge. This smooths the size mix- 
ture, which sometimes becomes spotted^and uneven. 

(3) Apply a second coat and smooth as before. 

(4) Apply a third and fourth coat and smooth each. 

( 5 ) The final coating should be smoothed with a soft cloth 
dipped in sweet oil, not in water. Sometimes the sweet oil is 
smoothed on with the finger. 

(6) Coatings should be repeated until the surface resists 
water. 

MOLDS FOR SLIP CASTING 

( 1 ) One-piece mold in which the model is such that the 
newly made cast may be easily lifted or "pulled" from the 
mold. 

(2) Two- and three-piece molds used for pottery forms 
which cannot be pulled from the mold. 

( 3 ) Two-piece mold for figurine casting. 

The One-Piece Mold 

Have at hand a simple pottery form, preferably an open 

[160] 




Fig. 117 

bowl. Since models for one-piece molds must always conform 
to the rule no undercuts, no returns which would keep it 
from being "pulled" from the mold the form must be one 
that can be easily lifted from the mold. 

It can be readily understood that a form such as Fig. 117A, 
growing wider toward the base, could not be drawn through 
the small top*opening, whereas, B, with the wide opening and 
diminishing curve, is perfectly fitted to a one-piece mold. 

In industry, such molds are turned solid in both plaster and 
wood on a lathe. (A variety of such prepared forms for mold 
making are supplied by dealers.) 

( 1 ) Cover the table or modeling board with paper to pro- 
tect it. The model must be closed so that no plaster can enter; 
consequently, fill the bowl with clay or, at least, close the open- 
ing. Invert the bowl with the clay inside on the table. 

(2) If the model is "green" clay, do not size it. If it is a 
finished piece, the surface must be given a coating of size. See 
p. 160, Applying Size. 

(3) Set up a wall about the model. Fig. 118. This may be 
of flexible cardboard, linoleum, or clay. The wall must extend 
at least 2 inches from the widest part of the model, and rise 
from 1 to 2 inches higher than the highest part. See that the 
wall is held firmly in place by a bank of clay wedged along the 
base and extending about 2 inches outward on the table. 

Turn up the outer edge of the clay bank. Seal all open cor- 
ners with clay. 

[161] 




Fig. 118. Pouring the one-piece mold for slip casting. 

Tie the wall securely with cord, rope, or wire, both above 
and below. 

(4) Prepare the plaster. The amount of plaster necessary 
will have to be estimated until one becomes experienced 
Enough should be made to fill the mold at one pouring Sift 
the plaster through the fingers slowly, letting it fall over the 
surface of the water. If lumps appear, break them or throw 
them out; if bubbles appear, blow them. Keep on sifting with- 
out starring until the plaster seems to be coming up to the sur- 
face, which means that the water has absorbed all it can take 

[162] 



Then, with the hand, reach in below the surface and agitate 
the water vigorously with the outstretched fingers until the 
mixture begins to thicken. Do not withdraw the hand until the 
mixture thickens, as this tends to create air bubbles. If one 
prefers to use a spoon, keep it under the surface and stir the 
mixture thoroughly until it begins to thicken. Do not with- 
draw the spoon. The plaster is then ready to pour. 

( 5 ) Pour the plaster gently over the bowl, filling the space 
around it to the top of the wall. 

(6) In about twenty minutes the plaster will be set, but 
not hard. This is the time to remove the wall. Remove the 
wall. Trim up the edges of the mold while soft Set the mold 
with the bowl inside, open side up, in a warm place to dry. 

(7) In from forty-five minutes to one hour, the plaster will 
have set and the model may be removed. Sometimes gently 
tapping on the outside of the mold will release it. 

(8) Sponge the mold, and set it aside in a warm place to 
dry. With the mold now complete, one may make as many 
slip casts of his model as he likes. 

Slip Casting a Bowl in the One-Piece Mold 

When preparing to cast a bowl in this one-piece mold, have 
at hand a container with a lip or spout that pours easily. Fill 
the container with slip, more than the required amount. The 
plaster cast is porous and therefore will absorb the water from 
the slip, leaving a deposit of clay on the walls of the mold. The 
extra slip must be used to keep the mold filled. 

( 1 ) See that the mold rests on an absolutely level surface; 
otherwise the form will not be evenly filled. When ready, pour 
the slip. Fill the mold to the top and let it run over the edge. 
As the water is absorbed, the level of the slip lowers. 

(2) Continue adding slip, keeping the mold filled. In 
about ten to fifteen minutes scrape the overflow from the 
top and see just how thick the wall has become. 

(3) When the wall reaches the desired thickness, usually 

[163] 




Fig. 119. The one-piece mold with the slip-cast bowl. 

1 A inch, turn the mold up and empty the remaining slip. Re- 
place the mold in proper position. As the clay dries, it will 
gradually detach itself from the mold. If it should cling, a pen- 
knife may be used carefully to detach the rim. 

(4) When firm but not leather-dry, the cast may be re- 
moved. The rim of the bowl is then smoothed with a moist 
sponge. Set the cast in a warm place to dry. 

(5) Carefully sponge out the mold and place it also in a 
warm place to dry. Molds should always be kept in a dry place 
and never be permitted to become damp. 

This mold may be used over and over again for slip casting, 
to make many replicas of the original model. Fig. 119. 

After the slip cast has become bone-dry, it may be glazed 
and fired and thereby become an acceptable pottery piece. 

The Two-Piece Slip Mold 

Two- and three-piece molds are more generally used for 

[164] 




Fig. 120. The model imbedded m the clay block. 

slip casting pottery forms than any other type of mold. These 
particular molds take care of forms with "turned in" curves 
which could never be pulled from a one-piece mold. These two- 
and three-piece molds are a ready means for increasing the 
supply of the first carefully designed model. The following di- 
rections are in consecutive order, first considering a model with 
a straight top and flat base: 

( 1 ) If the opening of the model is a straight edge, as in 
Fig. 120, the piece may be set flush with the top opening of the 
mold. Close the opening with clay to prevent the liquid plaster 
from entering the model. 

(2) Draw a line about the model, marking the vertical 
center. This must be exact for, if it varies from right to left, the 
cast cannot be drawn from the mold. 

(3) Prepare the clay block in which the model will be 
imbedded. This clay block should extend from all sides of the 
model, except the top, for a distance of from 2 to 2 l /2 inches, 
and be 1 inch deeper than half the model is wide. Imbed the 

[165] 




Fig. 121. The wall has been raised about the clay block, secured, and 
the piece is now ready for the plaster. 

model in the clay block up to the line marking the vertical 
center. 

(4) Add little clay knobs or "keys" to the clay block, 
spacing them two or three inches apart on the inner surface 
near the edge. Fig. 120. These will form depressions in the up- 
per section. With the projections on this side, a satisfactory 
"lock" of the two halves is assured. If one wishes, joggles may 
also be cut in the clay edges. 

( 5 ) If the model is plaster, wood, glass, or finished pot- 
tery, it must be given a liberal coating of size. See Applying 
Size, p. 160. 

(6) Raise a wall of flexible cardboard, linoleum, or clay 
around the clay block and directly against it. This supporting 
wall must be on all sides of the block, and must be 1 inch 
higher than the highest part of the model. It must be firmly 
secured to the table or board upon which one works by clay 

[166] 




Fie 122 Clay has been removed. The plaster block now becomes the base 
'for the pouring of the second section. 



packed around the base and carried up a little distance on i the 
wall. The comers and any seam must be sealed. Tie the wall, 
above and below, with rope, cord,.or wire. Fig 1-1- 

(7) Estimate the amount of plaster and prepare it. bee 
D 162 When plaster is ready (that is, of creamy consistency), 

pour sbwly over the model, filling the form to the top of the 
wall, or at least to a depth equal to the clay block. 

m After about twenty minutes, during which the plaster 
will have set sufficiently, remove the wall and trim the edges 
of the mold while the plaster is still damp. 

W The mold now shows two halves-one of plaster, one 

1 ' [167] 



of clay. In about thirty minutes, after the plaster has set more 
firmly, turn the complete form over so that the plaster becomes 
the bed and the clay is the upper section. Remove the clay. 
Fig. 122. 

(10) With a slightly damp sponge, wipe the exposed half 
of the model and the plaster segments surrounding it. Plaster 
instead of clay now surrounds the model. In order to prevent 
the plaster to be added from adhering to these segments and 
model, each must be given a thorough coating of size. Brush 
such coatings on the segments, taking special care of the de- 
pressions into which the knobs will fit. Go over the sized sur- 
face with a coating of sweet oil smoothed on with the finger. 

(11) Replace the wall, making it secure as before. Mix the 
plaster and pour to the upper level, completing the mold form. 
Fig. 123. 

(12) After the plaster has set about twenty minutes, re- 
move the wall and trim up the edges. 

(13) After about thirty minutes, insert a knife blade along 
opposite seams and tap gently. Soon the two halves will sepa- 
rate. Remove the model. 

(14) Examine the walls of the mold. These must be 
sponged so thoroughly that not a trace of clay or plaster is left 
on the inside surface. 

(15) Set the mold aside to dry. When thoroughly dry it is 
ready for as many slip castings as one would care to make. 

Pouring a Slip Cast in the Two-Piece Mold 

(1) Place the two sections of the mold together. Tie se- 
curely at both top and bottom. Seal the seams with clay. To 
make the mold even more secure, insert little wedges under 
the rope or cords to bring the sections still tighter. Fig. 124. 

(2) Have the slip in a convenient vessel for pouring. Pour 
slip into the mold, filling to the top and a little over. Rock the 
mold to prevent air bubbles and make sure that the slip covers 
all sides of the mold. 

[168] 













Fig. 123. Plaster block is walled and ready for the second pouring 
of the plaster. 

( 3 ) Soon a deposit of clay on the plaster walls will be seen. 
This is caused by the plaster absorbing the water from the slip. 
As the water is absorbed, the level of the slip lowers. Keep 
adding slip, filling to the top and going a little over. 

(4) In about twenty to thirty minutes draw a knife across 
the top and see the thickness of the wall. When this is satis- 
factory, usually about 1 A inch, invert the mold and empty the 
remaining slip. 

( 5 ) Immediately set the inverted mold over two supports, 
usually two sticks, to drain. 

( 6 ) After approximately twenty minutes, turn the mold in 
the natural position and set it aside for a while. It will be found 

[169] 




Fig. 124. The two sections of the mold are now assembled, tied se- 
curely, and the slip is poured into the mold to form the east. 



that as the clay dries it detaches itself from the mold and grad- 
ually shrinks in thickness. 

(7) In from twelve to twenty-four hours, the mold may be 
opened and the cast removed. Set it aside to dry thoroughly. 
Fig. 125. 

[170] 




Fig. 125. The two sections of the mold separated, showing the mold form 
and the slip-cast vase. 

Such a piece is very fragile and must be handled with great 
care. 

All casts show a threadlike line of clay where the slip has 
seeped into the seam between the two sections of the mold. 
After the cast has become firm, but not dry, this can be readily 
removed with a sharp penknife, then brushed over with a fine 
sandpaper, and finally smoothed with the dampened finger. 
When bone-dry, it is ready for the first or biscuit firing. 

If decoration is planned, either in slip painting, relief, or 
incised line, this must be carried out while the piece is firm 
but not in a leather-hard condition. 

The Three-Piece Slip Mold 

Many pottery pieces have not only a curved lip but also a 
concave base. Such forms could not be "pulled" from a two- 
piece mold; consequently, a three-piece mold must be made. 

For the illustration, Fig. 126, a hand-built vase, glazed and 
fired, with a curved lip and concave base, was chosen as a 

[171] 




Fig. 126. The three-piece mold, showing the two side sections, the base section, 
and the slip-poured vase. 

model. In making such a mold, one proceeds in much the same 
way as when making a two-piece mold. 

( 1 ) Draw a line on the surface of the model, marking the 
vertical center. This must be exact. 

(2) Close the opening of the vase with clay. Because of 
the curved lip, the top cannot be set flush with the top of the 
mold; consequently, a "spare" is made. This is a clay form built 
to fit over the closed opening and extending to the top of the 
mold. (See impression of "spare" in the mold, Fig. 126.) Pre- 
pare the "spare." 

( 3 ) Since the base is concave, a section must be prepared 
for this. The mold proper consists of three pieces the two 
side sections and the base hence, a three-piece mold. The 
"spare" is no part of the mold proper, but provides the open- 
ing for pouring the slip. Prepare the base. 

[172] 



(4) Prepare the clay block as in the two-piece mold. Im- 
bed the model with the "spare" and base in place. (Remove 
necessary clay in clay block and fill in afterward.) 

(5) Coat the exposed section of the vase with size; then 
smooth on a covering of sweet oil. 

(6) Place wall around clay block as in two-piece mold. 
Fig. 121. Prepare plaster and, when ready, pour over the 
model, filling the space to the top of the wall. 

(7) In about twenty minutes, remove wall. Turn the 
complete piece over, the plaster becoming the base and the 
clay uppermost. Remove the clay bed, but keep the spare and 
base in place. 

(8) Wipe the exposed half of the model with a damp 
sponge; also the plaster segments surrounding the model. Coat 
model, plaster segments, spare, and base with size. 

(9) Replace wall. See Fig. 123. Prepare plaster and pour 
over model, filling space to the top of the wall. 

(10) After the plaster has set sufficiently, remove wall. 
Turn the complete plaster form on end, base uppermost. Re- 
move clay base from mold. Size thoroughly the concave space 
within the mold and the plaster segments surrounding the 
base. 

(11) Mix only sufficient plaster to fill the base section. 
Pour plaster into open base section. 

(12) In about thirty minutes, insert a knife blade in the 
seams of the mold and, by tapping gently, the mold will open. 
The spare may then be removed, as well as the three* sections 
of the mold. 

(13) Complete the sponging and drying of the three-piece 
mold, as for the two-piece mold. 

Pouring a Slip Cast in the Three-Piece Mold 

(1) Assemble the three sections of the mold. The clay 
spare is now discarded and its place becomes the opening 
through which the slip is poured into the mold. Tie the mold 

[173] 



so securely that it seems as one piece. Tighten the sections still 
more by placing wedges under the cord or rope. 

(2 ) For each step in pouring the cast, follow the directions 
under Pouring a Slip Cast in a Two-Piece Mold, p. 168. 

When completed, the mold opened, and the slip cast re- 
moved, the various sections will resemble in number those 
shown in Fig 126. 

The slip-cast piece, after the seam line has been removed 
should be set aside to dry. If any decoration is planned, this 
should be applied before the piece is leather-hard. Finally, after 
drying to the bone-dry stage, the piece is ready for the first or 
biscuit firing. 

Slip Casting of Figurines in a Two-Piece Mold 

If the designer of figurines "in the round" wishes to cast 
his model in slip, to be followed by firing and glazing, he will 
probably use a piece mold. The simplest form of the piece 
mold used in figure casting is the two-piece mold similar to the 
two-piece mold used in casting pottery forms. Naturally, the 
choice of mold depends upon the type of model. If the figure 
is compact, with no undercuts or returns, it most likely may be 
cast in a two-piece mold. 

Figures with many undercuts and extensions present a very 
complicated problem and one which the amateur would 
scarcely undertake. Many of the eighteenth-century figures 
were so complicated that from twenty-five to one-hundred 
molds were sometimes necessary to complete one figure. 
Hands, arms, and even fingers; flowers, and fans, etc., were 
often cut from the figure and individual molds made of each. 
These were then assembled and firmly cemented with slip to 
the main body, thus rebuilding the figure. These figures were 
porcelain and went through the firing process, in which the 
clay was vitrified. 

The two-piece mold made like the two-piece mold for pot- 
tery forms will take care of a figurine not too complicated. If 
more complicated figures are designed, the various sections 

[174] 



have to be cast separately, then the parts assembled and ce- 
mented together with slip. 

A Two-Piece Slip Mold for a Figurine 

In planning to slip cast a figurine, make sure that a satis- 
factory division of the figure can be made. The two sections 
need not be halves, as in casting a pottery piece. Note in Fig. 
127 that the contour is very near the half mark until the head 
is reached. Here the dividing line has followed the highest 
point in the outline, so that each section may be easily re- 
moved from the mold. 

Further, observe that in this mold one of the knobs or 
"keys" is placed in an advantageous position to help release the 
head. A knowledge of such "knacks" in mold making comes 
with experience. 




COURTESY, THE MORTON POTTERIES, MORTON, ILL. 

Fie 127 The two sections of the two-piece mold and the slip-poured figurine. 

[175] 



In all figure molds, a spare is placed at the base. This pro- 
vides the opening through which the slip is poured into the 
mold. 

Proceed with the mold as follows: 

( 1 ) Draw a line dividing the figure. This line must follow 
the highest point in the contour. This is most important. 

( 2 ) Prepare the spare to fit the base. 

(3) Prepare the clay block, providing a place at the base 
for the spare. Fig. 127. 

(4) Imbed figure with spare in clay. 

(5) If the model is green clay, it need not be sized; if a 
finished figure, it must have a coating of size followed by sweet 
oil smoothed on with the finger. 

(6) Proceed as in the two- and three-piece molds: 

(a) Set the wall around clay block and secure it. 

(b) Prepare plaster and pour over model, filling form 
to the top or at least to the thickness of clay block. 

(c) In about twenty minutes, remove wall and trim 
edges of plaster. 

(d) Turn piece, so clay is uppermost. Remove clay. 
The first section is now complete. Proceed with the second 

half of the mold. 

(1) Wipe with a damp sponge both the half model re- 
leased and the surrounding plaster segments and spare. Leave 
the spare in place. 

(2) If the model is green clay, it should not be sized; if a 
finished piece, a coating of size on the model and all plaster 
segments, followed by an application of sweet oil smoothed on 
with the finger, insures smoothness. 

(3) Replace the wall. See that the spare is in place. Pre- 
pare plaster and pour second section. 

(4) In about twenty minutes, remove wall and trim edges. 

(5) In about thirty minutes, a knife blade inserted in the 
seam and gently tapped upon will cause the mold to open. Re- 
move the spare; also the model. 

[176] 



(6) Proceed as in all mold making; sponge the mold thor- 
oughly and set aside to dry. 

Pouring a Slip Cast in This Two-Piece Figure Mold 

( 1 ) Tie the two sections of the mold together. Draw the 
sections still closer by placing wedges under the rope or cord. 
Seal all seams with clay. 

(2) The base of the mold now becomes the top. Set the 
mold on a level surface and see that it is secure. 

(3) Prepare slip. This should be of creamy consistency 
and pouring quality. 

(4) When ready, fill to the top of the mold and a little 
over. Tip and turn mold to prevent air bubbles. 

( 5 ) The level of slip lowers as the plaster draws the water 
from the slip. Keep adding slip, filling to the top and over. 

(6) After thirty minutes, draw a knife across the top and 
ascertain the thickness of the slip wall. When about 1 A inch in 
thickness, invert mold and empty the remaining slip. 

(7) Set the mold, inverted, over two supports to drain. In 
about thirty minutes, return mold to proper position and set 
aside to dry. 

(8) After about twelve hours, a knife blade inserted at the 
seam and tapped upon will cause the mold to separate. Re- 
move the model. Fig. 127. 

The very fragile model should be carefully handled. When 
about leather-dry, remove the seam mark and set aside to dry 
thoroughly. When bone-dry, it is ready for the first or biscuit 
firing. 

MOLDS FOR PLASTER CASTING 

( 1 ) One-piece mold in which the model is in panel form, 
in relief. 

(2) Two-piece mold in which the model may be easily re- 
moved from the mold. 

Molds for plaster casting are somewhat similar to those 

[177] 



made for slip casting. One point, however, is important: that 
is, no mold that has been used for slip casting should be used 
for plaster casting, and plaster-casting molds cannot be used 
for slip casting. 

The One-Piece Mold for Plaster Casting 

The simplest mold for plaster casting is the one-piece mold 
in panel or tablet form, modeled in low relief, and with no 
undercuttings. Fig. 128. In making such a mold, proceed as 
follows: 

( 1 ) Place the model, either green clay or a finished piece, 
on a perfectly level table, modeling board, or ? better still, a 
piece of plate glass. Apply a coating of size, if the model 
is a finished piece, followed by an application of vSwcet oil 
smoothed on with the finger. If green clay, no sizing is neces- 
sary. 

(2) Set up a wall of flexible cardboard, linoleum, or clay 
about the model. The wall must be 1 inch higher than the 
highest part of the model. Set the wall directly against the 
sides of the model, or, if a border is planned set it the width of 
the border from the edge. 

(3) Secure wall with clay wedged firmly along base, and 
reinforce the wall with rolls of clay set some distance up on 
the wall. Seal all corners and scams with clay. Strengthen the 
wall by tying with rope, cord, or wire. 

(4) Prepare plaster. Pour slowly over model, just enough 
to cover the surface, usually about Vi inch in thickness. Blow 
plaster vigorously into all parts of the surface. 

(5) Pour in more plaster, covering the panel. Tip and 
turn the panel to avoid air bubbles. Fill the mold to the top. 

(6) Level the top by drawing a straightedge across it. The 
mold will rest on this top surface when turned over. Casts 
should be strong but not too thick; consequently toward the 
outer edge, if the relief is very low, the plaster may be thinner. 

(7) Let plaster set for twenty minutes. Remove wall 

[178] 




Fig. 128. One-piece plaster molds with cast of each. 

[179] 



While the plaster is still damp, use a tool or knife and make a 
beveled edge where the mold meets cither table or model. 

(8) After about thirty minutes, insert a knife blade in the 
beveled edge and tap gently. This will loosen the mold and it 
may be lifted and the model removed. If the model is green 
clay, the mold may be turned, face up, and the clay removed 
in pieces, if necessary. 

(9) After the model is removed, place mold, face up, on 
the table to dry. 

The mold, after the model or clay is removed, should show 
an exact replica of the model with the design or relief sunk- 
that is, in reverse from the original. Fig. 128. 

The plaster mold must then be sponged so thoroughly that 
not a particle of clay or size clings to the wall. When thor- 
oughly dry, it will be in condition to consider the making of 
the cast. 

Plaster Casting in This One-Piece Mold 

Since plaster adheres to plaster, the plaster mold must be 
given a thorough sizing to prevent this. In this one particular, 
molds for plaster casting are essentially different from slip- 
casting molds, whose walls are never treated against absorp- 
tion. In fact, the value of the slip mold lies in the fact that the 
plaster absorbs the water from the slip, leaving the deposit of 
clay on the plaster walls. 

In sizing the plaster-casting mold, the size should be 
rubbed vigorously into all parts of the surface; then, to aid still 
further in securing a smooth cast, go over the entire surface 
with sweet oil, smoothing it on with the finger. 

Before preparing the plaster, one should decide how this 
flat panel is to hang. If one or two hangers are decided upon, 
they should be prepared and in readiness. Select a wire from 4 
to 6 inches in length, bend it to form a loop, bring the long 
ends down together, twist them, and turn the ends at opposite 
angles and flat against the plaque. This, imbedded in the plas- 

[180] 



ter, will hold the piece firmly. If the wire is to be set in the 
edge instead of at the back, with a pointed knife make two 
holes through the edge of the mold and insert the ends, bring- 
ing them together and then turning them at right angles. 

With the above preliminaries completed, one is ready to 
proceed with making the cast. 

Pouring a Plaster Cast in This One-Piece Plaster Mold 

( 1 ) Place the mold, thoroughly sized, face up upon a per- 
fectly level table. 

(2) Prepare the plaster. When ready, pour a little at first, 
slowly covering the surface of the mold with a thin coating, 
vigorously blowing upon it to send it into all the lower parts of 
the mold. 

(3) Add more plaster, tip, and turn the mold, assisting 
thus in covering the surface. Fill to the brim. See that the 
hangers are in place before the plaster sets. 

(4) Place at one side until the plaster sets, probably from 
thirty to forty-five minutes. The cast and mold should be sep- 
arated as soon as it is possible to do so without injury to either 
the cast or mold; that is, before the plaster becomes too hard. 

( 5 ) Insert a knife blade along the beveled edge and tap 
gently upon it. This will loosen the mold and it may be re- 
moved. 

(6) Examine the cast and, if any imperfections appear, 
correct these before the plaster becomes hard. 

A second device often used to aid in the separation of mold 
and cast, especially where the pieces are large, is in the use of 
little wooden wedges. These are placed one, two, or three 
along the opposite edges of the mold and remain in place while 
the plaster is being poured. When ready to remove the mold, 
a gently tapping upon opposite wedges easily releases it. 

Holes in a mold or a cast indicate air bubbles and are evi- 
dence that the plaster was poured too quickly; if dappled with 
dots over a large area, the plaster was too stiff. 

[181] 



All imperfections in a plaster cast should be corrected im- 
mediately. A small amount of liquid plaster will adhere firmly 
to freshly set plaster or plaster saturated with water. Advantage 
may be taken of this to make necessary repairs. 

When the cast is completed to one's satisfaction it is then 
ready to receive an attractive finish. See Chapter Thirteen, A 
Finish for the Plaster Cast. 

The Two-Piece Mold for Plaster Casting 

In choosing a model for casting in plaster in a two-piece 
mold, emphasis must be placed upon simplicity of design. The 
figure must be compact in form no undercuts, no returns. 
The model must be such that the cast may be taken from the 
mold without injury to either the cast or mold. In Fig. 129, 
note the simple areas of the surface no undercuts, no returns. 

The two-piece mold for plaster casting is made very much 
like the two-piece mold for slip casting a figure. Since a figure 
is used, the spare is placed at the base of the mold and be- 
comes the opening through which the plaster is poured into 
the mold. The base is now referred to as the "top" of the mold. 

The figure must be divided into two parts. These are not 
necessarily halves as in pottery forms, for the line must follow 
the highest point in the contour. Consequently, in drawing 
the line, keep to the highest point in the outline, constantly 
studying the form to see that each side recedes from the line. 
The line will probably vary considerably, and most likely will 
never be a straight line as in a pottery form. 

Proceed as follows: 

( 1 ) Draw a line on the model, dividing it into two parts. 
Make sure that each part can be taken from its section without 
injury. 

(2) Model the clay spare with flaring sides and with a mar- 
gin of 1 to 2 inches around the base of the figure. Sec Fig. 129. 
Place the figure upon this base. 

(3) Prepare the clay block in which the model (with the 

[182] 




Fig. 129. The two-piece plaster mold with the plaster cast. 

spare) will be imbedded. The block should extend from all 
sides of the figure from 2 to P/2 inches, and be 1 inch deeper 
than half the model is wide. The base of spare should be set 
flush with the base of the block. 

(4) If the model is other than green clay, it must be thor- 
oughly sized. See p. 160. Set up the wall of flexible card- 
board; linoleum, or clay, making it 1 inch higher than the 
highest part of the model and securing it with clay wedged 
firmly about the base. See Fig. 121. Tie the mold both above 
and below with cord, rope, or wire. 

(5) Prepare the plaster. Pour the upper half of the mold. 
After twenty minutes, remove the wall and trim the edges of 
the mold. Turn the block, with the plaster section still in place, 
so that the clay is uppermost. Remove the clay. 

[183] 



One section of the mold has now been completed. Plaster 
surrounds the model and the spare is still in plaee at the base. 
Continue with the second section of the mold. 

(6) Thoroughly size the plaster segments surrounding the 
model, the spare, and also the model itself, if it is a finished 
piece. Replace the wall and make it secure. 

(7) Prepare the plaster for the second section. When 
ready, pour plaster, filling the space to the top of the wall or at 
least to the same thickness as the first section. 

(8) After about twenty minutes, remove wall and trim 
edges of the mold. In about thirty minutes, after the plaster is 
firm, a knife blade held at the seam and tapped upon gently 
will cause the two sections of the mold to separate and the 
model may be removed. 

If the model is green clay it may be taken from the mold in 
pieces; if it a finished model, it may have to be coaxed a little. 
Holding it under a faucet of hot running water and letting 
it rest for a while will soften the size and help release the 
form. 

With the model released, the mold must now be thor- 
oughly sponged and given a generous coating of size to prevent 
the plaster to be added from adhering to the walls. 

Pouring a Plaster Cast in This Two-Piece Plaster Mold 

(1) Size the walls of the mold. Sec p. 160. After the last 
coating of size, smooth the walls with sweet oil worked well 
over the surface with the finger. Fig. 129 shows finished mold. 

(2) Tie the two sections of the mold together. Omit the 
spare. Force the walls still tighter by slipping little wedges un- 
der the rope or cord. Fig. 124. Seal the seams with clay. 

(3) Set the mold, with the open end uppermost, on a per- 
fectly level table. 

If a model is small it probably will be cast solid. This ad- 
ditional weight in a small piece is a decided advantage, for it 
helps to sustain equilibrium and keep the piece upright. 

[184] 



For a small, solid cast, proceed as follows: 

(1) Prepare the plaster to an easy-flowing consistency. 
When it is ready, pour gently into the mold, filling only to the 
base of the figure. 

(2) Tip and turn the mold to avoid air bubbles and to 
make sure the plaster reaches all parts of the mold. 

(3) If the plaster at the base of the figure should sink a 
little, keep it filled to the proper level. 

(4) Place aside for the plaster to set. 

If the mold is a large one and not to be cast solid, the 
plaster is poured in sections. First, fill the mold about one* 
third. Turn and tip it to make sure that every part of the sur- 
face is covered. Empty this plaster and fill with a fresh mixture. 
Watch the plaster as it sets and gradually gains in thickness. 
When it has gained the desired thickness, usually 1 A to 1 inch, 
depending upon the size of the model, the mold is inverted 
and the remaining plaster emptied. The piece is then set aside 
from thirty to forty-five minutes, during which time the plaster 
will gradually set so that the mold may be opened. With a 
knife blade or blunt chisel held on the seam and gently tapped 
upon, the two sections will separate. The cast may then be 
removed. 

If the cast is difficult to remove, holding it under hot run- 
ning water will soften the size and help release it. 

After removing the cast, examine it to see if any repairs 
are necessary. A new cast is soft and easily cut. If any imper- 
fections appear, they may be corrected now better than later. 
A little freshly mixed plaster will often correct any small in- 
jury. A little ridge will be seen, caused by the plaster having 
seeped into the seam between the two sections of the mold. 
While the plaster is still damp use a small, sharp penknife to 
cut this away and, in doing so, avoid touching the adjoining 
surface of the cast. The seam may then be lightly touched with 
fine sandpaper and smoothed with the dampened finger. The 

[185] 



cast is then ready to be properly finished. See Chapter Thir- 
teen, A Finish for the Plaster Cast. 

PRESS MOLDS 

(1) One-piece press mold. 

(2) Two-piece press mold for pressing pottery forms. 

(3) Press molds for plates and shallow dishes. 

(4) Press molds for figures. 

Molds for pressing flat and some hollow pieces with slabs 
of clay are much the same as one- and two-piece molds, al- 
ready described, with the exception that no opening is neces- 
sary for pouring. Slip-casting molds, however, may be used as 
press molds. 

One-Piece Press Mold 

The one-piece press mold may be used to advantage in 
pressing tiles, reliefs, and ornamental designs often used in 
embossing pottery forms. First, the model must be prepared, 
then the mold made. The model should be free of all under- 
cuts so it can easily be taken from the mold. 

Prepare the mold as follows: 

(1) Place the model, face up, on a level table. If a tile 
with the four areas of the base indicated, place base upper- 
most. Fig. 1 30. 

(2) Set up cardboard wall 1 inch higher than highest part 
of model and about 2 inches from it. 

(3) Prepare plaster and pour, filling space to top of wall. 

(4) After twenty minutes, remove wall. Turn mold with 
clay uppermost. 

( 5 ) Remove clay. 

(6) Sponge mold. It is then ready for use. 

When pressing any clay form, it is essential that the mold 
be dusted with powdered chalk or talcum powder; otherwise, 
the pressed piece will not come from the mold in a satisfactory 
condition. 

[186] 




Fig. 130. Press mold for tile, showing the 
four sections of the base removed 

Proceed with pressing the clay in this one-piece press mold: 

( 1 ) Dust the mold with chalk or talcum. 

(2) Fill piece by piece with clay well worked together. 
Smooth surface. 

( 3 ) When filled, draw a taut wire or straightedge over the 
surface to remove excess clay. 

The pressed piece may be taken from the mold almost 
immediately, unless the clay is too soft to handle. If so, let the 
clay remain in the mold until it stiffens enough to be removed. 

Two-Piece Press Mold 

Pottery forms are frequently pressed in a two-piece press 
moldy using clay slabs in order to make the piece hollow. The 
mold is similar to the two-piece mold for slip casting. See p. 
171, Fig. 125. 

(1) Lay the two pieces of the mold open on the table. 
Dust each section with powdered chalk or talcum. 

(2) Roll out two slabs of clay about 1 A inch in thickness. 
Smooth and polish one side of each with a palette knife. 

(3) When ready, lay each of these smoothed slabs, pol- 
ished side down, in each of the two sections of the mold. 

[187] 




Fig. 131. Pressing a hollow pottery form, 
and showing the side of the slab form bev- 
eled. 

(4) Pat with a damp sponge, working from center to out- 
side edge. Remove excess clay. 

(5) Bevel the edges of the slabs so when they are placed 
together a wide, V-shaped seam runs along the inside of the 
mold. 

(6) Join the two halves of the mold and tie securely. 

(7) Roll out two ropes of clay. These are to be wedged 
into the V-shaped seam. First, coat the seam generously with 
slip. Insert the rope of clay and press firmly into the scam. 
(Use the fingers as much as possible, aided by a tool with a 
flattened end.) 

(8) After two or three hours, the clay will be sufficiently 
firm; the mold may be opened, and the piece removed. Fig 
131. 

Any repairs should be made while the clay is in a leather- 
dry condition. If decoration is planned, this, also, must be 
added while the clay is leather-dry. 

Making a Press Mold for Plates or Shallow Dishes 

In making such a press mold, there are two preliminary 
steps to be taken before the final form can be pressed; namely, 

[188] 



(A) The mold of the undersurface of the piece must be 
secured. 

(B) The mold of the inside surface of the piece must be 
prepared. 

In preparing (A) above, proceed as follows: 

(1) Select a model, fill with clay. (In this instance a fin- 
ished plate has been chosen.) 

(2) Invert model, as described in The One-Piece Mold, 
p. 161. See Fig. 118. 

(3) Set up cardboard wall, about 2 inches from model, 
making it about 3 inches high. Secure as directed. 

(4) Size base of model. Prepare plaster and pour to top 
of wall. 

(5) After twenty minutes, remove wall. Turn mold, plate 
up. Remove plate. 

(6) Cut three or four joggles in the rim of soft plaster. 

The mold for the undersurface is now complete, and be- 
comes the base for preparing the mold for the inside surface of 
the plate. Follow by making this mold. 

( 1 ) Place the plate in position in base mold. 

(2) Size plate and surrounding plaster surface. 

(3) Place wall, about 7 inches high, directly against the 
plaster base. Secure wall. 

(4) Prepare plaster and pour to top of wall. Fig. 132. 
(This will give necessary pressure.) 

(5) After about twenty minutes, remove the wall. 

(6) After the plaster has set more firmly, about thirty 
minutes, separate the two sections of the mold. Remove the 
plate. 

The two molds for slab pressing a plate are now complete. 
Sponge out the molds and set aside to dry. The mold will then 
be ready for pressing the slab cast of the plate. 

Pressing the Slab Cast of the Plate 

( 1 ) Dust both molds with powdered chalk. 

[189] 




Fig 132. Pouring the mold for the surface of a plate. 

(2) Roll out a slab of clay about 1 A inch in thickness and 
a little larger than the mold to be covered. Smooth, and polish 
the surface with a palette knife. 

(3) Lift clay and place, polished side up, in lower mold 

[190] 




Fig. 133. Pressing a plate. 

With a dampened sponge, smooth and pat the clay into 
the mold, working from the center out. This will probably 
extend edges over edge of plate. Trim edges. 

(4) When ready, take the upper mold and carefully press 
down on the clay. See that the joggles fit. Leave about twelve 
hours. Fig. 133. 

(5) Remove upper mold. Very carefully remove plate. 
Set aside to dry more thoroughly. 

[191] 



If any small depressions should appear in the surface, fill 
these up with soft clay and slip, then smooth with a dampened 
sponge. Sometimes a fine sandpaper may be touched over the 
surface and then a dampened sponge used as a finish. 

The plate is now ready (leather-dry) for any decoration 
one may care to add. 

Two-Piece Press Mold for Figures 

Small figures with no undercuts or returns may be cast 
solid in a two-piece mold similar to the two-piece slip mold 
for figures. Fig. 127. Proceed in the following manner: 

(1) Prepare the two sections of the mold for the clay 
slabs by dusting with powdered chalk or talcum. 

(2) Build each section up with pieces of clay firmly 
wedged into all parts of the mold. See that the edge of the 
figure is well defined. 

(3) Brush a thick coating of slip over the exposed flat 
surface of each half of the model. 

(4) Join the two sections of the mold and tic securely. 
Force them still tighter by placing little wedges under the rope 
or cords. 

(5) Leave clay in mold for twelve hours. 

(6) Next, open the mold and remove the solid clay figure. 
Sometimes such a figure may be lightened by removing 

some of the clay, hollowing out with a tool, 

FLEXIBLE MOLDS 

Flexible molds are made from molding jelly, gelatine, and 
treated rubber. Such materials have more or less elasticity, a 
quality that the rigid plaster does not possess. Rubber espe- 
cially has great resiliency and, when stretched, turned, or 
twisted, springs back into its original shape. For this reason, 
rubber molds are often preferred for figures with undercuts 
and slight extensions. Such molds are often used successfully 
for other forms, especially relief plaques and book ends. 

[192] 



Rubber molds are long lasting, and such a mold, if well 
made, may be used many times. Gelatine molds and those of 
similar type sometimes shrink considerably and therefore the 
number of casts from a mold is limited. 

All flexible molds are used only for plaster casting or for 
materials similar to plaster, and never for slip casting. Rubber 
and gelatine molds cannot absorb water from slip and, conse- 
quently, a mold cannot form. 

In making rubber molds, two forms of treated rubber are 
necessary: first, a liquid rubber applied for first coatings; sec- 
ond, a rubber paste applied over these first coatings. The 
paste, always laid on with a spatula, strengthens the mold by 
giving support to the rubber wall. The mold so strengthened 
can then support the liquid casting material poured into it to 
form the cast. If the wall is not sufficiently supported, the 
weight of the plaster poured into the mold causes the rubber 
to expand and to such a degree as to lose the form. 

For the first experience in making a rubber mold, it is 
best to choose a model with a base somewhat larger than any 
part of the form; that is, the figure should grow less bulky 
toward the top. When the base or opening is small, it is diffi- 
cult to remove either a model or a cast, if it has to be pulled 
up over much larger areas. In fact, it can scarcely be done 
successfully without cutting the mold. Frequently, it is neces- 
sary to cut a mold the length of one side to remove first the 
model and later the cast, and often two sides have to be cut. 

When molds have to be cut, and before a second cast is 
poured, the scam or scams must be very accurately fitted to- 
gether, secured with thin strips of adhesive tape, and then 
scaled with one or two coatings of liquid rubber. 

A mold is usually given a minimum of four coatings of 
liquid rubber, followed by two, three, or four coatings of the 
paste, depending upon the size of the model. A small model 
may take only two coatings of paste. Finally, the liquid rubber 
is applied over the last coating of paste. 

[193] 



Full directions for using the rubber mold are usually sup- 
plied with the materials. The following instructions give a 
general idea of the steps taken: 

The Rubber Mold 

(1) Fill the brush to be used with warm soap suds and 
carefully wipe away the excess. This is a protection to the 
brush to avoid hardening after using liquid rubber. 

(2) Secure the model in place upon the table or modeling 
board by coating around the base with liquid rubber and 
carrying it out from 1 to 2 inches on the surrounding .surface. 
This holds the model in place. The extension is also useful 
when removing the mold. 

(3) Beginning at the top, paint the model from the top 
down. Cover every part of the surface, leaving no air spaces 
between surface and coating. Such air spaces create air bubbles 
which disfigure the mold; consequently, the cast is imperfect. 

(4) Shortly, the first coating changes color, usually grow- 
ing darker, and some rubber becomes transparent. In about 
one hour, the first coating is sufficiently dry to add a second, a 
third, and then a fourth, allowing one hour between coatings. 
Four coatings are the least to be applied for satisfactory results. 

(5) The rubber paste is now applied with a spatula. Set 
aside to dry for one hour. 

(6) Apply a second coating of paste, a third, and possibly 
a fourth, allowing one hour between coatings for drying. 

( 7 ) Finally, go over the last coating with the original liquid 
rubber. Set the mold aside to dry for twenty-four hours. 

After the allotted time for drying, the model must then be 
removed from the mold. Proceed as follows: 

(1) Loosen the outer edge of the surrounding mat on the 
table. 

(2) Gently pull the mat up, and gradually work it up and 
over the top of the model. If it appears difficult, one side 
may be cut with a razor blade or very sharp-pointed scissors. 

[194] 






Fig. 134. Flexible molds. 

Sometimes just a small cut will relieve a difficult situation. 
If any cuts had to be made in the mold, these must be 
scaled as directed, p. 193, before the cast is poured. Follow by 
pouring the plaster to form the cast. 

Pouring a Plaster Cast in the Rubber Mold 

(1) Wipe the mold walls with a damp cloth. 

( 2 ) Prepare a half-and-half mixture of glycerine and water. 
Using a brush, go over the entire inner surface with this mix- 
ture. This will help in removing the mold. 

[195] ' 



(3) Invert the mold. Brace it so that the base which is 
now open is in a horizontal position. See that the mold 
is firmly supported. 

(4) Prepare the plaster. When ready, begin filling the 
mold, jarring it to prevent bubbles. Fill the mold to the top. 
Smooth off excess plaster at the opening with a straightedge. 

(5) Let stand twenty-four hours. Remove mold by slip- 
ping it from the cast. (If seams have been sealed, recut them.) 

(6) Examine the cast. Correct any injuries before plaster 
hardens. Set cast aside to dry thoroughly. 

(7) Sponge mold, and, as a protective measure, brush 
surface with mixture of glycerine and water. The mold may 
then be used for other castings. 

With the cast completed, it is now ready for an attractive 
finish. See Chapter Thirteen, A Finish for the Plaster Cast. 

WASTE MOLDS 

"Waste" or "chipped" molds are so called because the 
mold is "chipped" or "wasted" in releasing the cast. Such 
molds are used when only one cast of a model is made. 

In making waste molds, the general process is the same as 
making plaster molds with this difference: 

(1) When the plaster is being poured over the model, it 
is poured in one, two, or three layers, and each layer is covered 
with a coating of slip before the next layer is poured This 
causes the plaster to be chipped away easily, because plaster 
and slip do not adhere. 

(2) In pouring the plaster, the first coating is tinted, usu- 
ally with a little ochre, bluing, or ink. The color is immaterial; 
any other would do as well. As glimpses of the tinted plaster 
are seen, it is a reminder that one is ncaring the cast and must 
be careful in proceeding. 

The One-Piece Waste Mold 

The flat panel in low relief, with no undercuts or returns, is 

[196] 



the most simple model to cast. See p. 179. Since, however, a 
waste mold is now to be made, undercuts and returns will 
cause no great difficulty. Consequently, a wall decoration, a 
head in relief, is selected as the model. The progressive steps 
in preparing any one-piece waste mold are as follows: 

( 1 ) Coating of tinted plaster about Vs inch in thickness. 
(Tint water before adding plaster.) 

(2) Coating of slip over first coating of plaster to within 
l l /2 inches of outside edge. (This IVi-inch margin gives the 
new plaster a chance to join the previous layer. If the slip ex- 
tended to the edge, the plaster would not adhere firmly.) 

( 3 ) Layer of plaster, heavier than first coating. 

(4) Coating of slip to within \Vi inches of margin. 

( 5 ) Layer of white plaster, which may be the final appli- 
cation of plaster. Smooth surface. 

Continue as follows: 

( 1 ) Allow one-half hour for plaster to set. 

(2) Turn mold so clay is uppermost. 

(3) Remove clay from mold, in pieces, if necessary. 

(4) Follow directions for sponging the mold and prepar- 
ing the walls against absorption. See p. 160, Applying Size; 
also, pp. 180 and 181, Plaster Casting in This One-Piece 
Mold. 

When this is completed, the mold is ready to receive the 
plaster for the plaster cast. Before preparing the plaster, how- 
ever, a wire hanger, if necessary, should be prepared. See 
p. 181. 

Pouring a Plaster Cast in a One-Piece Waste Mold 

(1) Prepare the plaster as directed, p. 162. 

(2) Pour about half into the mold, turning and tipping 
the mold to prevent bubbles, then fill to the top. 

(3) While soft, level the top by drawing a ruler across it. 

(4) Allow one hour for the plaster to set firmly. 

Since this is a waste mold, the mold will be chipped away. 

[197] 



To proceed, lay the mold with the cast within, on a soft pad- 
ding, a folded blanket, carpet, or pillow. This will lighten the 
effect of the vibration caused by the chipping. Then, with a 
blunt chisel and light mallet, begin chipping away the plaster. 
Fig. 135. " 

This will not be difficult, because the slip coatings have 
made the layers nonadhesive. Begin with the outer coating. 
Keep the ball of the hand resting on the mold and the chisel 
at right angles. Tap very lightly and keep full control of the 
chisel, moving it the moment the plaster gives under it. Some- 
times the plaster can be removed in large pieces. By-and-by 
the yellow coating becomes visible. This is the signpost that 
means "extreme care/ 7 The yellow coating usually is removed 
without difficulty. One must be exceedingly careful, however, 
not to injure the surface of the new cast. When released, the 
cast should be inspected and, if injury has been done, it should 
be corrected. Plaster in a little water, stirred to a creamy con- 
sistency, is ideal for repairing when the cast is still clamp. It 
may also be used for painting over any scratches or other dis- 
figurement. When satisfactory, the cast is set away to dry more 
thoroughly, and will then be ready for a proper finish. Sec 
Chapter Thirteen, A Finish for the Plaster Cast. 

The Two-Piece Waste Mold 

Many models "in the round" have undercut parts and ex- 
tensions, and, when only one cast of such a model is to be 
made, the waste mold is a great saving in both time and labor. 
Some models, if not too complicated, may be cast in a two- 
piece mold, while others may require molds of several pieces. 

As in making a one-piece waste mold, the two-piece waste 
mold also is built up in two, three, or more layers of plaster 
with coatings of slip between layers. Also, the first coating is 
tinted. 

- In making such a mold, the plaster is thrown or flipped 
against the surface. It adheres to the model, whether clay or 

[198] 




Fig. 135. Chipping away the one-piece waste mold. 

a finished material, and gradually builds up to the desired 
thickness. Such is the general procedure. 

Since this is a two-piece mold, the model must be divided. 
Proceed as follows: 

(1) Consider the best way to divide the model. 

(2) Draw this line on the surface. (If the model is plaster, 
wood, or finished material, make sure that the two sections 

[199] 



can be taken from the mold. See p. 175, A Two-Piece Slip 
Mold for a Figurine. If the model is clay, this makes little 
difference, for the clay may be removed in pieces.) 

(3) A wall following this line must now be placed about 
the model. If the model is clay, little pieces of tin, about 1 
inch wide and lYz inches long are set in on the line to about 
Ys to 1 A inch, making a continuous wall about the piece. If 
the model is a finished piece, such as plaster, wood, etc., a 
wall of clay about Wi inches high and 3 /4 inch in thickness is 
raised on the line. See Fig. 1 36. 

(3) Prepare the tinted plaster for the mold. Apply about 
Ya inch in thickness. If the model is clay, each side of the wall 
may be covered. Do not cover the edge of the wall. If the 
model is a finished piece, make sure the surface is sized before 
applying the tinted plaster. Apply this to one side only. 

(4) Apply a thick coating of slip over tinted plaster. This, 
if the model is clay, covers each side of the wall; if the model 
is a finished piece, only the one side is coated. 

(5) Prepare a larger batch of plaster for coatings at least 
3 /4 inch in thickness. Cover each section of the clay model 
with plaster coating. Cover the half-section of finished model 
with plaster coating. 

(6) Allow this to set for thirty minutes. 

Proceed to complete the mold of the clay model as follows: 

(7) Remove metal wall. Separate sections by prying apart. 
Remove clay. If this seems difficult, set the mold with clay in a 
tub of water for twenty minutes, then remove clay in pieces. 

(8) Sponge mold and set aside to dry. 
Complete the mold of the finished model: 

(9) Remove the clay wall. The mold now shows the plas- 
ter wall of the first section. Size the wall thoroughly; also see 
that the remaining surface of the model is sized. Proceed as in 
first section namely: * 

(a) Coating of tinted plaster. 

(b) Layer of slip. 

[200] 




Fig. 136. The two-piece waste mold, showing only one section and the clay 

wall which separates the two sections. The wall is removed when ready to pour 

the second section, and the plaster segment is sized so that the two plaster 

surfaces will not adhere. 



(c) Coating of plaster 3 /4 inch in thickness. 

(d ) Let plaster set for thirty minutes, then open mold, 
lapping lightly on seam with a blunt chisel and small 

[201] 



mallet will cause the mold to separate, releasing the model 

(e) Remove model. 

(f ) Sponge mold and set aside to dry. 

After both molds are thoroughly clean and dry, they are 
ready for the casting process. Since the casting is to be done in 
plaster or a similar material, each mold is treated in the same 
manner. 

Casting in a Two-Piece Waste Mold 

(1) See that the walls have a generous coating of size. 
After sizing, go over the surface with a coating of sweet oil 
smoothed on with the finger. 

(2) Fit the two sections of the mold together. Tie se- 
curely with rope. Seal the seam with plaster. 

(3) Set the mold on a level table, open end up and the 
base horizontal. See that it is well supported. This is very im- 
portant. 

(4) Mix plaster and prepare to fill mold. Since this is a 
large mold, it will not be filled solid. 

(5) Fill the mold about half, tip and turn to see that every 
part of the surface is covered. Empty the plaster and fill with 
a fresh mixture. 

(6) Watch the plaster as it sets on the walls. When it has 
gained the correct thickness, from 3 /4 to 1 inch for a mold of 
this size, the mold is inverted and the remaining plaster 
emptied. 

(7) The mold, with cast, is then set aside for one hour, 
during which the plaster sets more finnly. 

After the plaster has set for one hour, it is not hard, but 
both mold and cast are in the best condition to be worked 
upon. Proceed to chip away the mold: 

(1) Use a blunt chisel and light mallet. The last coating 
of plaster will come off easily; in fact, it may break in pieces 
large and small. 

(2) Be on guard when using the chisel The moment the 

[202] 



plaster gives under it, move it quickly. All tapping should be 
very light. 

( > ) When the colored plaster is reached, leave it and take 
care of the white plaster which has not been removed. 

(4) Leave delicate places supported until later. 

( 5 ) As one reaches the tinted coating, great care must be 
taken to avoid injury to the new cast. 

Soon, with the last bit of color chipped away, the plaster 
cast stands released from the mold. If a slight ridge appears on 
the cast where the plaster has seeped into the seam, remove 
this with a sharp knife. 

Examine the cast for any injury, and correct while the 
plaster is still damp. The cast, after drying thoroughly, will be 
ready for an attractive finish, while the mold has, indeed, be- 
come waste. See Chapter Thirteen, A Finish for the Plaster 
Cast. 



[203] 



Chapter Thirteen 
A FINISH FOR THE BLASTER 




fter successfully completing a cast in plaster, the ques- 
tion naturally arises, "How shall I finish the plaster cast?" 
This is, indeed, an important consideration, for, since the 
model has passed through the several stages first designed, 
then modeled, and next carried through the tedious process of 
casting the product should culminate in a beautiful and satis- 
factory finish to the plaster cast. 

The first consideration of importance in preparing the cast 
for a successful finish is that of the plaster itself. Plaster is 
porous, and, consequently, absorbent. Therefore it is necessary 
that the sealing of the porous surface be accomplished before 
any finish is applied. 

A direct way of accomplishing this at the same time giv- 
ing the surface a delicate buff or ivory finish is by the use of 
linseed oil, as stated in the following directions; 

USING LINSEED OIL 

In order to thin linseed oil for use, it should be heated 
over a low fire. The cast, which should be free from dust, 
should also be warmed. One should never work with oils upon 
a cold cast. Place the warmed cast near the pan of heated oil 
and make swift applications from one to the other, working 

204 



from the top down. As soon as the first coat has been absorbed, 
apply the second, working as rapidly as possible. The oil must 
be kept moving in order to keep it from settling in spots on 
the surface. If more coats are necessary, keep adding them in 
the same way. If a tint is desired, a little ochre or raw or burnt 
sienna may be added to the last coat. After the oil has been 
absorbed and the model is dry, polish with a worn piece of 
soft silk or wool. An old silk handkerchief is preferable. 

"ANTIQUED" EFFECT 

The "antique" effect may be given by adding the pigment 
suggested above, in varying amounts, depending upon the de- 
gree of color desired. Run the color in all the low places in the 
cast, softening the edges with a dry cloth. Wipe all oil from 
the high reliefs and the plain areas of the surface. 

OIL COLORS 

If a cast such as a figurine should call for a number of 
colors, oil paints are the best. Usually, the cast must first be 
"conditioned/' that is, made nonporous by the application of 
linseed oil. The surface may then be painted without any fur- 
ther preparation. Oil colors applied in this way impart a soft- 
ness of texture that is very pleasing. It is possible, however, 
when the plaster finish is very fine and smooth to paint on 
this surface without conditioning it. Very fine effects have 
been achieved by this method 

Successful painting upon plaster depends upon the way it 
is applied. The paint must be sufficiently thinned with tur- 
pentine so it will spread easily over the surface and in no 
way destroy the delicacy of the modeling. It must leave no 
brush marks and give no suggestion that the color has been 
"painted on." 

If one prefers to have a pleasing surface finish without 
color, there arc several methods by which this may be accom- 
plished. The following are recommended: 

[205] 



PARAFFIN AND TURPENTINE 

Paraffin dissolved in turpentine, 1 ounce to Vi pint, im- 
parts a waxen glow to the white plaster. Turpentine is highly 
inflammable, however, and great care must be taken. First 
shave off the paraffin and melt it; then add the turpentine. 
Have this in a deep pan and warm it over a low flame Watch 
it carefully until warmed sufficiently to remove. It should 
then be brushed on while it and the model are still warm 
that is, with the paraffin in liquid-running condition. If the 
plaster should seem to fill up and clog, hold the cast near a 
radiator or register until it runs smooth, but never near a flame. 
When a dull shine appears on the surface, the plaster is filled. 
The surface is then ready for polishing. A soft silken or woolen 
cloth is best for this. This finish will impart to the plaster a 
marblelike glow. 

If a cast is small, it may be heated and then immersed in a 
liquid bath of paraffin and turpentine until it has absorbed all 
it can take. When dry, polish. 

WHITE SHELLAC 

( 1 ) Pui^e white shellac applied in two or three coats gives 
a very pleasing finish. When combined with alcohol in equal 
parts and several coats applied, allowing one-half hour between 
for coatings to dry, it imparts a delicate tint. 

(2) If one prefers more color, the above may be followed 
when dry, by deepening the shadows and emphasizing details 
with a solution of powdered ochre, raw umber, or sienna with 
alcohol, put on with a brush. The color must be applied in 
very light solution, for it is easier to make a light solution 
darker than to lighten one too dark. Any errors or misplaced 
color may be easily removed by wiping with a cloth dampened 
in alcohol. 

(3) Another method in applying color to a shellacked sur- 
face is as follows: Take a brush filled with color solution and 

[206] 



go all over the model, working from the top down. Follow 
immediately by wiping off the color from the surface, leaving 
it, however, in the hollows. 

POWDERED SOAPSTONE 

Dry, powdered soapstonc applied to the unfinished plaster 
surface and rubbed vigorously with a silken or woolen cloth 
imparts a soft polish to the surface. 

Any one of the foregoing suggestions will produce a pleas- 
ing effect and answer with complete satisfaction the question, 
"How shall I finish the plaster cast?" 



[207J 



gLOSSARY 



ARMATURE. A device made of wood 
or wood combined with wire and 
piping, upon which clay forms 
arc supported while being mod- 
eled. 

BATS. Flat slabs of plaster of various 
size used in building clay pieces, 
especially pottery. 

BISCUIT. Term applied to pottery and 
other clay forms after being fired 
once. 

BISQUE Same as BISCUIT. 

BODY. The basic material of which a 
piece is made. Sometimes refers 
to the main part of a piece. 

HONK-DRY. Term applied to clay that 
is so dry that it powders easily. 

CASTING. Making pieces in molds. 

CERAMICS. A general term applied to 
the art of making clay products; 
also to the products themselves. 
From the Greek Icerainos, mean- 
ing potter's clay, pertaining to pot- 
tery. 

CHINA. Name for porcelain because it 
was first made in China. 

GRAZING Appearance of cracks in a 
finished piece due to the glaze not 
fitting the body, or over- or under- 
firing. 

KNAMKL. A low-fired glaze. 

KNCOBK. A liquid clay, usually col- 
ored, used in decorating clay 
forms. 

FAI'KNCK. Baked clay that has been 
covered with a glaze to hide the 
body of the ware. In Italy, glazed 
ware first came from Faenza, from 
which the French derived their 
knowledge of glazed pottery, and 



gave it the name faience. 

GLOST. A term applied to the firing 
of glazed ware 

GREEN WARE. Unfired clay forms. 

JOGGLE A notched joint used in mak- 
ing molds. 

KILN. A furnace for firing clay prod- 
ucts. 

LEATHER-DRY. A term used to de- 
scribe clay forms which have be- 
come firm but not fully dry. 

LEATHER-HARD. A term used to de- 
scribe clay forms which have be- 
come firm but not bone-dry. 

MATT. A term applied to a glaze 
whose gloss has been dulled. 

MAJOLICA. Term applied to earthen- 
ware which has been coated with 
a light, opaque glaze in order that 
bright colors may be applied in 
decoration. Term dso applies to 
glaze. 

GLOSS. A term applied to a glaze with 
a bright, shiny surface. 

MOLD. A hollow pattern made in 
plaster or other material in which 
forms may be cast. 

PORCELAIN. Name given to a hard 
translucent ware. The name is de- 
rived from porcella, the name of a 
shell which resembles a little pig. 
(From Latin porcus, a pig ) Por- 
celain has the delicacy and sheen 
of this shell. 

RETURN. A part of a surface which is 
at right angles to the main part. 

SGRAFFITO. A form of decoration in 
which a dark body is covered with 
a light slip and the design made 
by scratching this away, leaving 
209 



the dark underbody as the pattern THROWING. Tcim used in producing 

SLIP. Clay diluted with water to a clay forms on a potter's wheel, 

creamy consistency Used for cast- WEDGING. Method of preparing clay 

ing, decorating, and as a medium by pounding, slapping, kneading, 

for mending broken green ware. and cutting to lid the clay of aii 

TEMPLATE. A profile outline or pat- and secure an even consistency, 

tern. Used also to indicate firm, conV 

TERRA COTTA. Baked clay. pact modeling 



[210] 



INDEX 



A 

"Antiqued" effect, plaster casts, 205 
Armature, 63, 70, 71 (fllus ) 

B 

Bats, 14, 15, making, 71 (Illus ) 

Beads, clay, 105 

"Blocked"" figures, 68-70 (Illus ) 

Bookends, 9, 22, 41 (IIJus.) 

Brick, gla/.cd, 76 

Brush, 93, 94, 110 

Button maker, American, 108 

Buttons, 104-108 

c 

Cane heads, poicclain, 107, 108 
Casting in rubber molds, 19 5-1 96 

(Illus.) 
Casting in waste molds (Illus.) 

one piece mold, 197-198 

two-piece mold, 202-203 
Casting, plastci (I/las.) 

one-piece mold, 181-182 

two-piece (figurine) mold, 184- 

185 
Casting, slip (Illus ) 

in one-piece mold, 163-164 

three piece mold, 173-174 

two-piece mold, 168-171 

two piece (figure) mold, 177 
Casts, plaster, finishing, 204-207 
Cellini, Benvenuto, 59 
Ceramic jewelry, 102-133 (IIIizs.) 
Clay 

containers, 16 

shrinkage, 82, 86, 134 

technique, 10, 21, 22 
Coloiing oxides, 88, 108 
Color 

knowledge of, 59 

repetition in pattern, 91, 92 
Composition, in relation to cast mak- 
ing, 60 

D 

Decoration 

primitive figures, 1 8-20 
primitive pottery, 114-118 



[211] 



E 

Enamel, 76, 106 

Engobe decoration, (see Slip paint- 
ing) 

Engobes, 88 
Equipment, 11-16 



Faience, 9, IS, 52 (Illus., Fig. 4) 
Figures, "blocked," 60-70 (Illus ) 
Figurine casting 

plaster, in two-piece mold, 184- 
185 (Illus.) 

rubber, 192-195 

slip, m two-piece mold, 175-177 

(Illus.) 

Figurines, 53-67 (Illus.) 
Figurines, modern uses of, 75 
Figurine pressing, 192 
Firing 

biscuit, 155 

ceramic jewelry, 112 

glost, 155 
Flexible molds, 193-196 

G 

Glaze 

applying, 151, 152 

early uses, 149 

bow prepared, 150 

bow supplied, 150 

opaque, 12, 13, 156 

transparent, 77, 88, 93, 97, 100, 

156 

Glazing, methods of, 151, 152 
Glossary, 209, 210 
Glost firing, 84, 155 
Gothic symbolism, 47, 49 
Grog, 84 
Gum tragacanth, 88, 89 

H 

Handles and spouts, 123, 124 

I 

Incised tiles, method, 80-84 (Illus ) 
Intaglio patterns, 80 



J 

Jasper ware, 105-107 
Jeweler's cement, 112 

K 

"Kick" wheel, 14, 138 

Kiln, primitive, 14, 117, 150-154 

(Illus.) 
"Knuckling up/' 173, 174 (Illus.) 

L 

Linseed oil, use of on plaster casts, 

204, 205 
Lucca della Robbia, 149, 150 

M 

Master molds, 68 
Majolica, 78, 149 
Majorca, island of, 78, 149 
Modeling 

technique, 17-21, 22 

value of, 10, 17 
Molds, flexible, 192-196 (Illus.) 
Monograms, 22 (Illus.) 

o 

Oil colors, use on plaster, 205 
Overglaze decoration, method, 93-94 
Oxides, metallic, 88, 108 

P 

Paperweight, 9, 40, 43 (Illus.) 
Paraffin, 84, 85, 88, 96, 150, 159, 206 
Paraffin and turpentine, use on plaster 

cast, 206 

Pins and fasteners (jewelry), 112-113 
Pierced ware, method, 97-100 

(Illus.) 

"Planes," 68-70 (Illus.) 
Plaster casts, finish for, 206, 207 
Plaster casting 
in one-piece mold, 181-182 

(Illus.) 

in rubber molds, 195-196 
in two-piece mold (figurine) 184- 

185 (Illus.) 

in waste molds, 197-198, 202-203 
Plaster of Paris 
care of, 158 
preparation for pouring, 162-163 



[212] 



Porcelain, 11, 52, 54, 105, 108, 110, 

128 
Pottery (Illus.) 

coiled method, 116-119 

slab-built, 130-134 
Pottery decoration 

inlaid, 85-95 

modern methods, incised, 80-84 

pierced, 07-100 

primitive, 114-118 (Illus.) 

relief, 84-85 

sgraffito, 94-95 

slip painting, 88-91 
Press molds, 186-192 (Illus ) 
Processes, ceramic, technical knowl- 
edge of value, 59, 60 
Pyrometric cones, 156 

R 

Relief tiles, method, 84-8? (IHtis.) 
Rubber molds, 192-19? (Illus ) 

s 

Separator, 160 

Sgraffito ware, method, 94, 95, 129 

130 (Illus.) 
Shellac, white, use on plaster casts, 

206 
Size 

applying, 160 

preparation of, 159, 160 
Slip, 77, 78, 88, 89, 110, 139, 159 
Slip casting (Illus.) 

one-piccc mold, 163-164 

three-piece mold, 173-174 

two-piece mold, 168-171 

two-piece (figurine) mold, 177 
Slip-decorated 

pottery, 115, Fig. 87; 117, Figs. 
89, 90; 118, Fig. 92; 126, Fig. 
97; 135, Fig. 105 

tiles, method, 88-91 (Illus.) 
Slip joining, 110, 123, 125-127 
Slip mending, 60, 133 
Slip molds (Illus.) 

one-piece, 161-163 

three-piece, 171-173 

two-piece, 164-170 

two-piece (figurine), 175-177 
Slip stains, 88 
Slip tracer, 126, 127 (Illus.) 



Soapstone, powdered, 207 
Symbolism ( IIlus. ) 
* Gothic, 47, 50 
Indian, 22, 23 

T 

Template, 120, 122 (IIlus., Fig. 

95D) 

Terra cotta, 19, 20, 42, 56, 58 
'Throwing," 138-148 (IIlus.) 
Tile base, treatment of, 82, 83, 84 

(IIlus.) 

Tile, building of, 27, 82 
Tile, press mold, 27, 186, 187 (IJlus.) 
Tiles 

decorative (IIlus.) 

incised, 80-84 

inlaid, 85-88 

ovcrgla/cd, 93-04 

pierced 97-100 

relief, 84-85 

review, 76-80 



sgraffito, 94-97 
slip-painted, 88-91 
underglazed, 91-93 
Tilework, Mexican, 79, 80 

u 

Underglaze decoration, method, 91- 
92 (IIlus.) 

w 

Wall 

brackets, 9 

plaques, 31 

pockets, 32 

Waste molds, 196-203 
Wedge, 24, 25 
Wcdgewood, Josiah, 105 
Wheel 

building on, 139-148 (IIlus.) 

electric, 138 

"kick" wheel, 138 

potter's, 137 



[213]